Both the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers went into Wednesday’s matchup playing in the second of a back-to-back and coming off a loss. But one team is in the midst of a tight Western Conference playoff race, while the other was missing key contributors due to injury.
Yet, it was the Lakers who clawed out a 122-112 overtime victory. It gave them a three-game season sweep of the Spurs, marking the first time the Lakers won all head-to-head meetings in a single season since 1997-98.
That Lakers team reached the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the Utah Jazz. This season’s rendition of the Lakers is missing the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, which head coach Luke Walton took into account when evaluating the season sweep.
“It’s nice. Obviously, San Antonio for close to 20 years have won 50-plus games, so to beat them multiple times in a season, for a young team that’s kind of finding themselves and building, is a nice accomplishment,” he said.
“But they’re most likely going to the playoffs, and we’re not. The messaging all year is not about other teams and whatnot. It’s about what we do and how we present ourselves, the attitude we have, how we compete. Sweeping another team is nice, but it’s not part of what we want to be about.”
As might be expected from a team as young as the Lakers, they’ve tended to play up — or down — to the level of their competition. They lost all four matchups with the Golden State Warriors, but three were by single-digits and two went to overtime.
L.A. thus far is 1-2 against the Houston Rockets, with one of the defeats a double-overtime game. They’ll square off for a final time Tuesday at Staples Center.