SAN ANTONIO — For the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, the regular-season finale was not at all indicative of how the first 81 games went.
Eliminated from playoff contention more than a month ago, the Lakers ended their season by beating San Antonio 113-100 on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Los Angeles (27-55) won consecutive games for the first time in three weeks. The Lakers finished the season with the fewest wins in franchise history since 1959-60 — the season before the team moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles.
“Our guys played hard and made some shots,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They did the best they could for a season that was upside down. The guys, individually, wanted to listen. They never hung their heads. They did a lot of positive things.”
The Spurs, who clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs last week, had a chance to tie a franchise record with its 63rd regular-season victory. However, they placed a higher priority on keeping players’ legs fresh and staying healthy going into the playoffs for the 17th straight year — by far the longest current streak in the NBA.
“If I don’t like (the regular season) after winning 62 (games), I would be a maniac,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginboli, who scored 10 points in 23 minutes off the bench. “I like it. We are No. 1 overall. You can’t be much better than that. It doesn’t matter if we win 53 or 63, the playoffs start from sratch. But we had a great season.”
The Spurs (62-20) erased what was once a 13-point Lakers lead in the second quarter and briefly led after a layup from Ginboli that capped a 15-3 run. The Lakers quickly regained control, though, scoring the first six points of the third quarter after going into halftime tied at 51. Los Angeles never trailed in the second half.
San Antonio will begin the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, who could have avoided falling into the No. 8 seed by winning Wednesday night, but they lost 106-105 in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs swept their regular-season series with the Mavericks 4-0, winning those four games by an average of 11.5 points per game.
“We had a good regular season and now the postseason starts,” said a tight-lipped Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who did not answer questions after the loss.
The win kept the Lakers from being swept by the Spurs in the regular season for the first time since 2004-05, when the Spurs won the third of four championships under Popovich.
A season-high eight players scored in double figures for the Lakers, with forward Jordan Hill leading the way. He scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting fom the field. The Lakers started the game on a 12-4 run as the Spurs missed nine of their first 11 shots from the floor.
“Everybody was being aggressive. We were finding each other. Everybody was hitting shots,” said Lakers forward Wesley Johnson, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year. “Once the ball gets to moving, everybody found their shot and found their rhythm.”
The Lakers have been plagued by injuries, going most of the season without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol missed 22 games as well. With nearly as many players injured as available Wednesday night, the Lakers were able to end their dreadful season with a win.
“That’s just been us all year, not to give up or go through the motions,” said Lakers forward Nick Young, who chipped in 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. “We try to go out there and play our hearts out and get a victory. Instead of losing tonight, we felt we wanted to win and it does feel better.”
NOTES: Spurs F Boris Diaw turned 32 on Wednesday. … Spurs F/C Tim Duncan (rest) and G Marco Belinelli (rest) both sat out Wednesday. … San Antonio will open the playoffs Sunday. … San Antonio used its 30th different starting lineup on Wednesday, the second most in the NBA, behind only the Lakers (35). … The Lakers scored 33 points in the first quarter, three shy of their season high (36 at Cleveland on Feb. 5). … The Lakers are 15-14 this season when they lead or are tied after one quarter. The Spurs are 19-11 when trailing after the first quarter. … The Spurs lost for the first time this season when C Tiago Splitter scored at least 10 points. San Antonio is now 24-1 when he scores in double figures and 33-1 when he scores at least seven points.
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