- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - The Los Angeles Lakers were having a blast in a rather meaningless game, dashing up and down the court and flying to the rim for rebounds and dunks.

And no one was having more fun than Tyler Ennis.

Making his first start of the season, Ennis had 19 points in place of injured starter D’Angelo Russell and the Lakers never trailed in a 102-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

“Everybody is just playing free and unselfish, just trying to make the right plays,” said Lakers forward Julius Randle, one of five players in double figures. “Everybody is aggressive, so, naturally, it’s a lot of fun.”

Los Angeles led by as many as 26 points in snapping an eight-game skid against San Antonio.

“They were physical,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They got after it, they did a good job, they deserved to win.”

San Antonio played its normal starting lineup, with the exception of injured guard Danny Green, despite already clinching the Southwest Division title.

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge did not play in the second half, however, as Popovich opted to rest his starting forwards. Leonard finished with 11 points in 14 minutes, and Aldridge had eight points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.

“I didn’t want to overplay anybody just to win a basketball game,” Popovich said. “It doesn’t make much sense in the long run.”

The Lakers (23-55) may have the league’s third worst record, but outplayed the Spurs and snapped their three-game winning streak.

“They’re having fun,” Los Angeles coach Luke Walton said. “We’re trying to build momentum for this off-season and hopefully we can stay healthy and keep playing a certain way.”

San Antonio scored a season-low 14 points in the first quarter for the second consecutive game.

“We were able to move the ball well, but we also got stagnant at some times, just in mud, we had some open looks and didn’t make them,” Leonard said.

Ennis sparked the early run after learning Russell would miss the game after experiencing soreness in his left knee during shootaround.

Ennis responded with five points, two assists and no turnovers in the opening period. He finished with six assists and only one turnover while shooting 3 for 4 on 3-pointers.

“I think for me, in my situation so far, coach is making me feel more comfortable than I’ve been,” Ennis said. “My teammates have believed in me. That’s the main thing for me, is being able to be comfortable out there.”

Larry Nance Jr. had six points and two rebounds in the opening four minutes as the Lakers rolled to a 31-14 lead in the first quarter.

Nance finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and Randle had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Los Angeles outscored San Antonio 58-38 in the paint.


Lakers: Brandon Ingram, who was initially listed as questionable, played 10 minutes despite experiencing right patellar tendinitis. “Originally, he was on no minutes restriction, but with the pain (he is now),” Walton said. “He really wants to play and the trainer said he should be fine.” … Jordan Clarkson said his left knee was fine after bumping knees with another player in the second half. … Tarik Black was also listed as questionable with a mild sprained left knee, but had five points in 27 minutes. … Ennis has played in 49 games, 18 with the Lakers since being acquired in a trade with Houston.

Spurs: San Antonio G Manu Ginobili did not play after bruising his right quadriceps Tuesday against Memphis. … Green missed his third straight game with a bruised left quadriceps. … San Antonio played its first back-to-back games at the AT&T; Center in a non-lockout shortened season since February 2009. … Davis Bertans has 25 blocks, one more than Leonard had his rookie season.


The Lakers will be forced to trade their upcoming pick in the NBA draft to Philadelphia unless they get one of the top three selections as part of a Feb. 20, 2015, trade.

Because the draft pick is only protected up to the third pick, some Lakers fans want the team to lose and fall further down the standings. The Lakers are currently third in the standings behind Brooklyn and Phoenix.

An unexpected win against the Spurs likely didn’t make some Lakers fans happy, but Ennis didn’t care.

“We’re all on social media, so we see it, but I only worry about things in here,” Ennis said. “Coach (Walton) wants us to go out there and win. I don’t think any coach is going to make you go out there and lose a game. I don’t really care what the fans say about winning or losing games. I’m going to go out there every night and try to win.”


Leonard said he expects to play in San Antonio’s final four games despite averaging a team-high 33.9 minutes per game this season.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep playing games, I don’t want to fall out of rhythm,” Leonard said. “But that’s up to (Popovich) and we’ll see what happens.”


Lakers: Host Sacramento on Friday night.

Spurs: At Dallas on Friday night.

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