Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 120-97 loss to the Clippers Sunday at Staples Center:
1. The Lakers officially became tied for the worst team in Los Angeles franchise history. The Lakers would gladly have the Clippers’ banners cover up this accomplishment. The Lakers (25-51) would have to win all five of their remaining games to avoid surpassing the 1974-75 team, which finished 30-52 overall, as having the worst record in franchise history since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ loss also cemented only their fourth regular season series loss to the Clippers (2012-13, 1992-93 and 1974-75). Considering the Lakers’ never-ending injuries and persisting losing, it’s likely they’ll make the team record books for reasons that have nothing to do with NBA championships, MVP trophies or retired jerseys. As terrible as this season has turned out, this year’s Lakers team at least surpassed the Minneapolis Lakers team in 1957-58 (19-53) that holds the franchise’s worst record.
2. Kent Bazmore exited the game with a sprained right foot. The Clippers haven’t just taken basketball superiority away from the Lakers. The Clippers also appears to have given them their curse. Bazemore marks the sixth Lakers’ player to suffer an injury while playing the point guard spot after turning his right foot while handling the ball at the top of the key with 10:08 left in the second quarter. Bazemore, who had two points and four assists through 12 minutes, was then taken to the locker room to take x-rays that turned out negative. The Lakers plan for Bazemore to take an MRI on Monday.
Such developments have consistently defined the Lakers’ failed season. The other five Lakers’ point guards to suffer injuries include to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back), Jordan Farmar (strained right groin), Xavier Henry (bone bruise in right knee, torn ligament in left wrist) and Steve Blake, who missed a combined 32 games because of a hyperextended right elbow before being traded two months ago to Golden State. Meanwhile, both Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Chris Kaman (strained right calf) remain sidelined.
3. Nick Young experiences a scare with his left knee. The frustration on his face said it all. Young felt pain in his knee after diving for a loose ball, the very same knee that nursed a bone bruise this season and kept him out for 16 games. He eventually sat down on the bench with a less than a minute left in the third quarter with a towel draped over his face and a bag of ice wrapped around his left knee.
He reentered the game with 8:53 remaining, but last for about four minutes until the Lakers yanked him out. The Lakers are calling his injury a sore left knee, though no immediate tests are planned. Regardless, this could be concerning down the road considering Young moved with a noticeable limp and scored 18 points on only 5 of 15 shooting.
4. The Lakers’ defensive issues continued. Hey, we’ve seen the Lakers do worse. Concede a franchise worst 48-point loss to the Clippers a month ago. Or lose by 37 points two months ago. But the Lakers still looked terrible on defense. Griffin (23 points on 7 of 14 shooting) provided more of a mid-range game than dunks. Chris Paul (23 points on 8 of 10 shooting and six assists) drove into the paint mainly anytime he wanted and contributed to 25 fast-break points. JJ Redick (15 points on 7 of 11 shooting) sank jumpers as if he was playing an arcade game. DeAndre Jordan (11 points and 12 rebounds) enjoyed plenty of lobs and easy rebounds over Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre, a frontcourt that had no answer for the Clippers outrebounding the Lakers, 50-36. The lone Lakers’ defensive success entailed scoring 22 points off of 16 turnovers. But the Lakers’ weaknesses in both half-court and transition defense made those turnovers a non issue.
5. The Lakers offense went cold. The Lakers appeared incredibly inefficient on offense, shooting 36 of 86 from the field (41.9 percent) and 7 of 31 from three-point range (22.6 percent). Hill’s 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting marked the lone Lakers player to shoot above 50 percent. Jodie Meeks’ 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting marked a rare off shooting night where he missed his first five shots. Young also went into a cold stretch after hitting four of his first five shots.
Of course, plenty of this traces to the Lakers’ numerous injuries. The Lakers’ 26 assists to 36 field goals suggest they had enough ball movement. So it became just a matter of the Lakers missing open shots, something they can never afford to do.
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