Spurs' Gregg Popovich latest to come to defense of Lakers' Luke Walton

Popovich

LOS ANGELES - Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said he hopes to be back in action soon after missing the last three games with a strained left shoulder.

"Brook (Lopez) did a great job starting off with upside defense, [and] blocked shots", said forward Larry Nance Jr. "I don't know what it was, but it was about time we got out of that rut".

Danny Green (tightness, left groin) is questionable and Tony Parker (sprained right ankle) is doubtful against the Lakers.

Anyone expecting to see a more aggressive version of Ball after his efficient showing against the Spurs-18 points on the strength of four three-pointers-was left disappointed.

But on Thursday night, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich shared what might be the strongest take on the situation yet. "They were very physical, much more physical than we were". They answered with a 15-3 run of their own to grab a two-point lead with just under four minutes to play. The 20-year old point guard says he can feel the waves coming in but Kuzma ain't buying it. Guard Kent Bazemore began connecting shots, scoring 10 points half way through the third quarter.

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Give it the boot: Reserve forward Rudy Gay is out of the walking boot he has been wearing since being diagnosed with right heel bursitis December 29. He, too, has a triple-double (21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists vs. the New Orleans Pelicans), but tallied seven turnovers in the same game.

The Spurs' leading bench scorer at 11.5 points per game, Gay is slated to miss his eighth consecutive game Saturday.

Before the game, Popovich didn't mince words when asked about the recent criticism of Walton from Lithuanian basketball power broker LaVar Ball: "I think the first thing to look at is the substance and gravitas of the source that speaks, and just stopping at that point would tell you that you don't need to listen or go any further".

Thursday's matchup between the Spurs and Lakers will be the first of three this regular season. He responded with a calculated takedown of LaVar in which he referred to the Ball family patriarch as "just another fan in the peanut gallery" and said his opinion is "meaningless". "He's a defensive coach, so I learned a lot on the defensive end from him". "Because we're not going to get for you talent-wise what we would want, so let's figure this thing out.' And we did".

The Lakers, 14-27, are en route to Dallas for a matchup against the Mavericks tomorrow night, followed by road games in Memphis and Oklahoma City next week.

More news: Google Inc (GOOG) looks to have acquired United Kingdom startup Redux

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