SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • The Los Angeles Lakers appeared to have finally found their momentum after defeating the San Antonio Spurs for their fourth straight National Basketball Association victory on Wednesday.
Two days later, there was to be no repeat of the gritty late show, 43-31 in the fourth quarter, that gave them a 121-113 home win.
This time, in San Antonio, they threw away a double-digit lead and were outscored 44-21 to lose 133-120.
Coach Luke Walton admitted that his inconsistent side, who dropped to 15-10, took their foot off the pedal "a little" towards the end.
"We played well enough to win that game for three quarters, then they just took over in that fourth," he said. "We're still learning to play together in these environments - when San Antonio's crowd gets going - and we're also down bodies.
"I think as a group we're trying to become a team that's mentally tough enough to win these type of road games, and we've gotten a lot better from the start of the season. But like I said before the game, we're not here yet.
LAKERS v SPURS: POINTS SWING IN FOURTH QUARTER
AT HOME (WEDNESDAY)
AT SPURS (FRIDAY)
"I just thought with the way that they were shooting the ball and the run they went on, we gave in a little bit tonight."
DeMar DeRozan recorded 36 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to lead the Spurs to an improved 12-14 record. LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl each had 14 points and eight rebounds. Patty Mills also scored 14 points and Davis Bertans added 13.
For the Lakers, star forward LeBron James had 35 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and Kyle Kuzma added 27 points and eight rebounds.
Los Angeles played without small forward Brandon Ingram, who sprained his left ankle in the Wednesday game.
Bertans knocked down four three-pointers as the Spurs made 13 of 31 from three-point range and shot 50.5 per cent overall.
The Lakers shot 46 per cent from the floor and made 11 of 36 from long range.
San Antonio trailed for the entire second and third quarters, falling behind by as many as 15 points, before making a late dash.
The Spurs used a 9-0 run, capped by Bertans' three-pointer with 4min 48sec left, to lead 118-112.
A short time later, DeRozan hit three consecutive shots as San Antonio took a 127-116 advantage with 2:10 remaining.
Another three-pointer by Bertans pushed the lead to 131-118 with 1:34 left, and the Spurs closed it out.
"We can't take our foot off the gas," Lakers forward Kuzma said on ESPN. "I think we did that a little bit in the fourth slowing down a little bit. Defensively, we obviously need to do better."
For James, he hopes the defeat can be a learning experience for the season ahead.
"We let this one get away from us, but it's a 48-minute game, it happens," he said. "We need to learn from it and get ready to go."