Boomers centre Jock Landale has continued to impress, playing a strong bench role for the San Antonio Spurs in a 138-110 NBA rout of the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers.
The 26-year-old Australian rookie is making the most of increased opportunities under coaching great Gregg Popovich since being recalled from the G League 11 days ago.
He scored an NBA career-best 13 points to go with eight rebounds and three assists in his 15 minutes on court as the Spurs (13-18) backed up their win over the Clippers in the downtown LA stadium three days earlier.
James had 36 points and nine rebounds and Russell Westbrook scored 30 points for the Lakers, who have now lost four straight for the first time this season amid COVID-19 roster chaos.
The Lakers (16-16) were playing without coach Frank Vogel and five players under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and they’re 0-4 since Anthony Davis injured his left knee in Minnesota last week.
Derrick White had 23 points and Lonnie Walker added 21 in the third victory in four games for the Spurs, who hit 18 three-pointers.
With Olympic bronze medallist Landale to the fore, San Antonio took an early double-digit lead and won comfortably despite a subpar game from leading scorer Dejounte Murray, who went three for 16.
In Phoenix, fellow Australian rookie Josh Giddey posted 17 points but his young Oklahoma City Thunder team could not match the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns, losing 113-101.
With Devin Booker scoring 30 points, Cam Johnson 21 and Deandre Ayton 19, the Suns improved to 26-5 for the season and have won 25 of their last 27.
The Thunder (11-20) proved a tough opponent for much of the night and rallied for a 48-45 halftime lead after trailing by as many as 15 points.
Shai Gilgeous Alexander had 29 points for the Thunder, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.
“From where we have come from at the start of the year to now, 30 games later, you can definitely see improvements,” Giddey said.
“Earlier in the year that 15-point lead would have gone to 30. Now we are able to kind of control those leads and weather the storm.”
Boomers veteran Joe Ingles was also in action on Thursday night, coming off the bench to score 16 points with five assists as his Utah Jazz improved their record to 22-9 with a 128-116 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-17).
Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points while Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 17 rebounds to help the Jazz win for the 10th time in 12 games.
In San Francisco, Stephen Curry maintained his hot form, scoring 46 points – four short of his season best – including eight triples as his Golden State Warriors (26-6) held off the Memphis Grizzles 113-104.
With MVP chants ringing throughout the night, Curry made 13 of 22 shots and was 12 for 12 on free throws to top the 30-point mark for the 12th time this season and the 225th of his career.