On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs 93-81 to claim their third straight victory, and for the second game in a row, everyone in the arena got tacos.
The Lakers' previous two wins had been against teams near the bottom of the NBA, but the San Antonio Spurs are perennial contenders, and LA stepped up its defense to compete.
After the first quarter, the Spurs only had 15 points on the board. In fact, the Spurs did not manage to score 25 points in a single quarter on Thursday night, and the Lakers won three of the four quarters en route to victory.
Brandon Ingram led all scorers with 25 points, while Lonzo Ball flirted with yet another triple-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. However, the subtle star of the night was backup center Larry Nance Jr.
Nance finished the night with 14 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 30 active minutes.
"Larry might have been our most valuable player today," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game. "I thought Brandon, obviously, was huge down the stretch, [and Ball] was great throughout. Different guys at different times made really big play for us, but I thought Larry's play, from the first time he checked in, to leaving him in for the entire rest of the second half, he was putting out fires on defense, he was guarding bigger players, just all over the place."
Walton added, "In my opinion, that's his third straight great game with this win streak."
Along with Nance's ability to guard bigger players like Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, the forward also threw down the best highlight dunk of the night. Nance stole the ball and gave a pass to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to launch a two-on-one fast break. Caldwell-Pope made the correct play and found Nance on an alley-oop, but the pass was behind the forward. The 25-year-old adjusted after take-off, managed to dunk the ball and brought Staples Center to life.
Q: "Do you think you threw that pass too high for Larry?"
Nance (in the background):“Yes!”
KCP: “Most definitely. My man got hops. If he would have missed it, it would have been on me. Appreciate it, Larry.”pic.twitter.com/NNUa3zJLvZ— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) January 12, 2018
Aldridge finished with 20 points on the night, while Gasol scored nine points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out five assists on the court where he celebrated the Lakers' most recent title.
"We didn't play well for the majority of the game," the Spaniard said after the game. "We didn't play smart, and we let them, at times, out-hustle us and play more physical than us. They got into us, they forced us to turn the ball over way too many times."
Gasol added, "They got 34 points out of our turnovers."
As much as the Spurs committing 21 turnovers is irregular, the Lakers' increased activity caused a great deal of those errors. LA recorded 15 steals on the night, with Ball and Caldwell-Pope combining for nine of those swipes.
Next, the Lakers take their winning streak on the road for a three-game road trip to Dallas, Memphis and Oklahoma City.