The Lakers fans still cheer over every basket. They yell in approval when the purple and gold streamers fall out of the Staples Center rafters to signify a rare victory. The volume level rises even more when the Lakers secure free tacos by holding opponents under 100 points.
But there remains a large segment of fans on the airwaves, on Twitter and on Instagram that feel much different when the Lakers win a basketball game. They fret over the team’s fortunes in the NBA draft lottery that will take place on May 17. Those anxieties will likely heighten when the Lakers (14-54) host the Phoenix Suns (18-49) on Friday at Staples Center.
“We’re not in a weird position,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We play Phoenix and we’re trying to win the game.”
But if the Lakers win the game, they will decrease the 4 1/2-game cushion they have over the Suns for the NBA’s second-worst record. The Lakers currently have a 55.8 percent chance of retaining their top-3 protected pick and 19.9 percent odds of landing with the first selection. But the Lakers’ win over the Suns plus a handful of other victories in the remaining 14 games could slide the Lakers with the league’s third-worst spot. That position would give the Lakers a 46.9 percent chance of finishing in the top three and 15.6 percent odds of getting that coveted first pick.
“My sentiment hasn’t changed from last year to this year as far as that’s concerned,” Scott said. “I just focus on what I have to do because fans are going to be fans.”
Hence, Scott vowed he has ignored his Instagram account and has not read any newspapers. But the Lakers may just lose naturally anyway.
The Lakers have dropped two consecutive games to sub-par opponents (New York, Sacramento) merely a week after upsetting the NBA’s defending champions (Golden State). Considering the Lakers’ sub-par play this season, Scott wondered aloud, “How do we take people lightly?”
“I don’t understand how we do that,” Scott said. “I don’t think we have the second or third best record in the league. So I don’t see how we do that anyway or how we’re not ready to play against opponents in our guys mind that are just as bad as we are.”
Both Scott and Lakers veteran forward Brandon Bass mostly attributed that to the team’s collective inexperience stemmed from a young roster.
“When you’re a veteran group, you’re more aware on how you come out because you’ve been around the league and the game for a while,” Bass said. “As you get older in the league, you learn sense of urgency.”