Tim Duncan and the rest of the Spurs are a formidable challenge for the injury-depleted… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )
The Lakers (15-19) visit the San Antonio Spurs (27-10) on Wednesday night, facing one of the best teams in the league while significantly short-handed. Once again Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion), Jordan Hill (hip) and Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) will all be out for the Lakers.
That means the Lakers will turn to rookie Robert Sacre, who will play his third game in three nights from Reno (with the D-Fenders) to Houston to San Antonio. Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark may get major minutes trying to guard Tim Duncan.
The Spurs are still led by Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan with a steady and deep supporting cast. The Lakers showed they have fight in them, even without much of the roster, on Tuesday night against the Rockets. Playing in San Antonio on a back-to-back night certainly doesn't sound promising.
Duncan is having a strong season, averaging 17.6 points a game with 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. The key matchup for the game is whoever the Lakers are using at any given moment to try and defend him.
Sacre, over his career, has 18 personal fouls in 83 total minutes. On average he would foul out twice a game. Against the Rockets, he did block four shots while collecting three boards, scoring a career-high 10 points.
World Peace has a big, strong body but gives up significant height to Duncan. Jamison has never been known to be much of a defender. Clark still has to prove himself on the floor for Coach Mike D'Antoni.
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich will rest starters on occasion. Facetiously, that longshot may be the X-factor.
The Lakers are faced with a serious uphill battle; the entire available roster will need to play at its absolute best to gut out an underdog win.
Kawhi Leonard is a strong perimeter defender. If he can give Kobe Bryant a strong effort, the Lakers may struggle immensely to score.
A Lakers win in San Antonio might be the biggest of the year, given how many players they are missing. Against the Spurs, that's going to be a very, very difficult task.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.