With starting point guard D'Angelo Russell sitting out due to a sore knee, the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers beating the San Antonio Spurs in Texas did not appear to be a likely outcome on Wednesday night.
However, against all odds and reason, the Lakers won 102-95 with stand-in point guard Tyler Ennis having a career night with 19 points, which is a new career-high, six assists, two steals and only one turnover. Ennis hit three of his four three-point attempts.
"(Ennis is) a smart, tough defender, which we need," Lakers coach Luke Walton said on Spectrum SportsNet after the game. "He had a great game for us tonight."
In fact, the Lakers led wire-to-wire after rookie Brandon Ingram helped LA to a fast start with eight points and three assists in the first quarter. The 19-year-old started off especially aggressive, but due to a sore knee coming into the game, the team decided not to play the no. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft beyond the first quarter.
Even without Ingram, the Lakers built up a 26-point lead on the Spurs, but San Antonio eventually brought that difference down to 12 points by the halftime intermission.
The Spurs came out roaring in the third quarter and closed the game to a one-possession contest before LA answered back. At the end of the three quarters, the Lakers led by six points, but the Spurs appeared to be the team in complete control.
Over the final 12 minutes, the Lakers lost starting guard Jordan Clarkson to a knee contusion, which meant the Lakers were effectively playing without Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Luol Deng, Nick Young and Timofey Mozgov on the road in San Antonio.
With Metta World Peace among the players Lakers coach Luke Walton called upon, somehow, LA held on and won by a final tally of 102-95.
"To be honest, I love the opportunity to play Metta," Walton said after the game, citing that Ingram sitting out left the coach with few options. "He's been so good all year for us. He works his tail off in practice and never complains about not playing. So if I get an opportunity to get Metta out there, I love taking advantage of that."
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As a reminder, 37-year-old World Peace is a few months older than his coach.
Of course, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opting not to play Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard more than 16 minutes each on the night played a role in the Spurs' defeat, but San Antonio could hardly look at the opposition and make excuses.
Beating the odds, the Lakers earned a rare road victory in San Antonio. Prior to Wednesday night, the Lakers had not won in San Antonio in any of their previous eight trips to the River Walk. With the win, LA now has one more victory than the Phoenix Suns and is in firm control of the third-worst record in the NBA.
Next, the Lakers return home for three games before playing away against the Golden State Warriors on April 12 to finish the season.
Notes: Clarkson, who is from San Antonio, finished as the game's leading scorer with 17 points.