SAN ANTONIO – The lottery-bound Los Angeles Lakers have lost 55 games this season, but they've still got some bite to their game. Just ask the Spurs.
Tyler Ennis scored 19 points and Wagner High School graduate Jordan Clarkson had 17 to help lead the Lakers to a 102-95 victory over the Silver and Black on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Making his first start of the season, Ennis made 8 of 14 shots, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line, and dished out six assists in 39 minutes. He subbed for injured guard D'Angelo Russell, sidelined with a sore left knee.
Clarkson left the game with a minor knee injury in the final two minutes of the third quarter and did not return. He made 7 of 17 shots, and added six rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes. He also had five turnovers.
The Lakers, who never trailed, led 31-14 after one quarter and were up 40-14 with 10:34 in the second period before the Silver and Black whittled the deficit to 53-41 at the half.
"We started getting really sloppy," Spurs reserve center Pau Gasol said. "They were a lot more aggressive than we were. We didn't understand who we were playing, a team that pushes the ball every time in transition and is aggressive.
"They took the initiative from the beginning, and we were on our heels for most of the game. I guess in the second quarter we started meeting that aggressiveness, competing a little more, but we couldn't quite get there."
The Spurs went on to tie the score at 76 on consecutive 3-pointers by Jonathon Simmons and Bryn Forbes in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but as Gasol noted, they never got over the hump.
"It's the NBA," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "The other team wants to make a point. They want to win. They want to look good. Everybody wants contracts and everybody wants to be on teams. So I thought they played really hard. They came in here to try to win a game, and they did."
The Silver and Black (60-18) played without leading scorer Kawhi Leonard, starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and key reserve guard Patty Mills the entire second half.
Starting point guard Tony Parker logged only five minutes in the third quarter before retiring to the bench for the rest of the game. The Spurs started their second consecutive game without guard Danny Green, sidelined with a left quad contusion, and also were missing Manu Ginobili (right quad contusion) and Dejounte Murray (left groin)
Parker and rookie forward Davis Bertans led the Silver and Black scoring with 14 points each. Leonard and Kyle Anderson rounded out the team's double-digit scoring with 11 points apiece.
"Being down like that and then sitting some guys, I thought, showed me something that the reserves could stick in there and do what they did," Popovich said. "So that was nice."
The Spurs' loss came one night after they edged Memphis 95-89 in overtime at the AT&T Center.
Popovich was glad to see the team's reserves get extended minutes.
"It's good for them to be in that situation," he said. "They did a good job of getting us back in the game. It's been a long two days, and I saw a lot that I was pleased with."
The Lakers (23-55) snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Spurs, who won the season series 3-1. The Silver and Black had won eight of their last nine games and three in a row since losing to Golden State on March 29. The Warriors (65-14) clinched the top seed in the Western Conference for the third year in a row with a 120-111 win over Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles was up 98-82 before Bertans drained a 3-pointer to cap a 13-2 run that cut the Lakers' lead to 100-95 with 1:19 left. Bertans knocked down two 3-pointers in the run and Kyle Anderson drained a long-distance shot 22 seconds before Bertans' second trey. The back-to-back 3-pointers brought a roar from the crowd.
After Lakers forward Tarik Black missed a jumper on the possession after Bertans' second 3-pointer, David Lee snagged the rebound for the Spurs with 1:03 remaining. Bertans then misfired on a 3-pointer with 55.7 seconds left. That turned out to be San Antonio's last gasp. David Nwaba sealed the Lakers' victory with a tip dunk.
Parker, who played 16 minutes, hit 7 of 11 shots and dished out four assists.
Popovich was asked if Parker looks he's back to where he wants to be going into the playoffs.
"Yeah, I told him he had the first five minutes and then kept out Patty (Mills), obviously, and Kawhi and L.A. (Aldridge)," Popovich said. "I didn't want to overplay anybody just to win a basketball game. That doesn't make much sense in the long run.
"We started our pretty poorly and got better as we went. But L.A. (Los Angeles), they were physical. They got after it, and they did a good job. They deserved to win."
The Spurs shot 27.3 percent (6/22) and were 0 for 7 from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Lakers were 58.3 percent (14/24) from the field.
The Silver and Black had 16 turnovers that led to 25 Lakers points. L.A. won the rebounding battle 47-37.
Wednesday’s game was the second of four in five nights for the Silver and Black. San Antonio already has clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The NBA plays start Saturday, April 15.
Three of the Spurs’ last four games are against teams that would make the playoffs if the postseason started Wednesday. The Silver and Black take Thursday off before facing the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and hosting the Los Angeles Clippers in their regular-season home finale Saturday. The Spurs play at Portland on Monday and end the regular season at Utah next Wednesday.
The Clippers and Utah Jazz have clinched playoff berths, and Portland leads Denver by one game for eighth in the West standings. The top eight teams in each NBA conference advance to the playoffs.
Here is a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the Lakers-Spurs game Wednesday night:
Final: Lakers 102, Spurs 95. Tyler Ennis and Wagner graduate Jordan Clarkson score 19 and 17 points, respectively, to lead L.A. The Silver and Black drop to 50-18 and the Lakers go to 23-55.
Fourth quarter (4:43): Lakers 93, Spurs 82. L.A. is on a 7-0 run since Davis Bertans hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 86-82.
Fourth quarter (5:53): Lakers 88, Spurs 82. Bryn Forbes tied the score at 76, but the Silver and Black haven't been able to take the lead. L.A. has led since the opening tipoff.
Fourth quarter (10:28): Jonathon Simmons and Bryn Forbes nail back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 76, but Tyler Ennis puts L.A. back on top with a 3-pointer. Timeout Spurs.
End of third quarter: Lakers 76, Spurs 70. Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard lead the Silver and Black scoring with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Wagner High School graduate Jordan Clarkson leads the Lakers with 17 points.
Third quarter (2:56): Lakers 70, Spurs 65. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard did not start the third quarter and probably will sit out the second half. Davis Bertans and Kyle Anderson started for Aldridge and Leonard, respectively.
Third quarter (6:55): Lakers 61, Spurs 59. The Silver and Black have outscored the Lakers 18-8 at the start of the second half. Davis Bertans hits a 3-pointer to cap a 9-0 run that cuts the L.A. lead to two.
Halftime: Lakers 53, Spurs 41
First-half notes: The Lakers led 31-14 after the first quarter and went up by 26 points (40-14) on a finger-roll layup by Thomas Robinson with 10:34 left in the half. But the Silver outscored the Lakers 27-13 the rest of the period to trim the deficit to 12 at the half . . . Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 11 points . . . The Silver and Black shot 40 percent overall (18/45) and just 23.1 percent (3/13) from the 3-point line. The Spurs moved the ball well, getting 13 assists on their 18 field goals . . . Tyler Ennis and Wagner High School graduate Jordan Clarkson led L.A. with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Larry Nance. Jr. had nine points in the first half . . . The Lakers shot 52.2 percent overall (24/46) and 42.9 percent (3/7) from the 3-point line . . . Jonathon Simmons started his second consecutive game for the Spurs at guard, subbing for Danny Green, who missed the game with a left quad contusion. Manu Ginobili, who sustained a right quad contusion in the Silver and Black's overtime win against Memphis on Tuesday night, also did not play.
Second quarter (2:51): Lakers 49, Spurs 34. Kawhi Leonard leads the Silver and Black scoring with 11 points.
Second quarter (6:07): Lakers 46, Spurs 27. Tyler Ennis has scored the last three baskets for the Lakers.
Second quarter (9:29): Lakers 40, Spurs 21. The Silver and Black have scored seven unanswered points after falling behind 40-14.
End of first quarter: Lakers 31, Spurs 14. The Silver and Black shot 27 percent (6/22) in the opening period.
First quarter (2:24): Lakers 27, Spurs 14. L.A. has outscored the Silver and Black 19-6 since Kawhi Leonard hit a basket to tie the score at 8.
First quarter (6:37): Lakers 14, Spurs 10. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard have scored four points each.
SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black playing out string in final week of regular season
Los Angeles Lakers (22-55) vs. Spurs (60-17)
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, AT&T Center
Season series: Spurs lead 3-0
Last meeting: Spurs 119, Lakers 98, Feb. 26, Los Angeles
Lakers' last game: Beat Memphis Grizzlies 108-103, Sunday, Los Angeles
Spurs' last game: Beat Grizzlies 95-89, Tuesday, AT&T Center
Lakers' last 10 games: 2-8, lost four of last five
Spurs' last 10 games: 8-2, won last three
Notable: Spurs Manu Ginobili (right quad), Danny Green (left quad) and Dejounte Murray (groin) are out for Wednesday night's game.
SAN ANTONIO – Another 60-win season secured, the Spurs can now count on one hand the number of games they have left in the regular season.
The Silver and Black reached the 60-win mark for the seventh time in franchise history with a hard-fought 95-89 overtime victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center. Only the Boston Celtics (13) and Los Angeles Lakers (11) have more 60-win seasons than San Antonio in NBA history.
The Spurs (60-17) and Grizzlies (42-36) would meet in the first round of the playoffs if the postseason started Wednesday.
The Silver and Black, who have five games left in the regular season, start playing out the string Wednesday night at home against the lottery-bound Lakers (22-55).
Once a perennial power, the Lakers have languished near the bottom of the Western Conference standings throughout the season. They are 0-3 against the Spurs, losing by an average of 23.3 points.
“We’re now five games away from the playoffs,” Spurs center Pau Gasol said after Tuesday night’s win over Memphis. “Now everything should be, mentally and physically, getting ourselves ready for that point.”
Wednesday’s game is the second of four in five nights for the Silver and Black, who have won three in a row and eight of their last nine. San Antonio already has clinched at least the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and trails first-place Golden State by three games in the loss column. The Warriors have four games remaining.
The NBA playoffs start on Saturday, April 15.
Three of the Spurs’ last five games are against teams that would make the playoffs if the postseason started Wednesday. Two of the four will be played at the AT&T Center.
After playing the Lakers, the Silver and Black take Thursday off before facing the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and hosting the Los Angeles Clippers in their regular-season home finale Saturday. The Clippers (47-31) are fifth in the West standings.
The Spurs play at Portland on Monday and end the regular season at Utah next Wednesday. Utah (48-30) and Portland (38-40) are fourth and eighth, respectively, in the West. The top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs.
While Danny Green (left quad contusion), Manu Ginobili (right quad contusion) and Dejounte Murray (left groin) are the Spurs listed as out for Wednesday night’s game, coach Gregg Popovich probably will rest more players. Patty Mills and David Lee suited up against Utah on Sunday, but never got off the bench.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs in their OT victory against Memphis, finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. He sealed the win with three free throws in the final 17.2 seconds.
“Any time you have to make plays down the stretch and you are behind and you have to execute, it’s good for the team and good for your confidence,” Leonard said. “Both teams were making shots at the end.”
Asked why the Grizzlies are so tough to score against, Leonard replied, “Memphis packs the paint and doesn’t allow you to get easy layups and they get their hands on a lot of balls.”
The Silver and Black swept the injury-depleted Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last year. But Memphis beat San Antonio in a memorable 2011 first-round playoff series. The Grizzlies were a No. 8 seed when they knocked off the top-seeded Spurs, ending the series in six games.
Next up for the Spurs after Wednesday's game: vs. Mavericks, 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dallas