The Los Angeles Lakers dropped into the cellar of the Western Conference following Sunday's 122-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the worst defeat in franchise history. The team is still within striking distance of a playoff spot, having entered Monday four-and-a-half games behind the No. 8-seeded Denver Nuggets.
However, there are six teams between the Lakers and Nuggets in the standings, so leapfrogging all of them is not going to be an easy task. Los Angeles has gone 6-22 since its surprising 10-10 start to the season. Currently, the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are the only teams with worse records than the Lakers, who own a protected top-three pick in what is widely expected to be a strong draft in June.
Los Angeles would surrender that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside the top three. Should the Lakers creep into the playoffs as an 8-seed, a first-round matchup against the Golden State Warriors would likely await. Los Angeles shocked the Dubs 117-97 back on Nov. 4, but the two-time defending Western Conference champions throttled the Lakers twice later that month.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A day after suffering the worst loss in franchise history, a 49-point beating by the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton pointed out how his young team tends to suffer losses right after wins, a sign that they’re easily satisfied.
“We have a team that when we have some success, we relax,” Walton said Monday after practice at the team’s facility. “That’s our natural state. I wouldn’t say ‘satisfied,’ but it’s almost that type of feeling. In this league, with as much as you play, when you win one game, you’ve got to let that go by the next morning, whether it’s practice or shootaround on a back-to-back. You’ve got to be completely ready to start over, refocus and bring that same type of energy level again the next night out. We haven’t figured that out as a group yet.”
The Lakers, who are 16-32, beat the Indiana Pacers on Friday before heading to Dallas to face the struggling Mavericks on Sunday, when the Lakers fell in the most lopsided NBA game this season. It was the Lakers’ worst loss since they fell by 48 points to the Utah Jazz last March. The Lakers have lost six of their past seven games, including four by double digits.
Walton’s message to the team?
“When we win games, I tell them, this is how we should expect to play,” Walton said. “As professional athletes, we should expect to feel like this after games -- and then let it go. Come back to work the next morning. There shouldn’t be any big-time celebrating after a win or anything like that. We come to work expecting to win, and then we come back to work the next day.”
Though the struggling Lakers are mostly young, rookie forward Brandon Ingram said, “We can’t keep making excuses about that.”
Walton, the league’s youngest head coach at 36, cited a lack of effort in the loss to Dallas.
“I don’t feel disrespected,” he said. “I feel angry that I know we’re better than this, and I know the work our guys are putting in -- they should expect and deserve better results than that. But I also understand that you really have to learn how to play every single night.”
But Walton said he’s not concerned that Sunday’s loss will have lingering effects.
“I know our group is going to figure it out,” Walton said. “We’re not there, but we’re going to get there. I’m not concerned about it. When it’s going to happen, I don’t know, but we’re going to get there.
“I think we’ve gotten through to our team. I think they’ve bought in. We’re not going to change what we’re doing.”
The Lakers travel to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Lakers' Brandon Ingram appears off his game against Mavericks: Eight minutes into the worst loss in franchise history, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram had already missed a reverse layup, airballed a three-pointer, thrown a bad pass for a turnover and had a short floating jumper swatted out of bounds by Mavericks reserve center Salah Mejri. -- Los Angeles Times
Lakers' season takes another turn in Dallas, this time for worst loss in franchise history: Nobody would have blamed the Lakers on Sunday if they had walked off the American Airlines Center court at halftime, made a beeline for the team bus and bolted to the airport for a flight home. They were well on their way to the most lopsided loss in franchise history, a 122-73 pasting at the hands of the lowly Dallas Mavericks in which they trailed by 34 points at the break and were playing some of their ugliest basketball of an often unsightly season. -- Los Angeles Times
Lakers' issues in 122-73 loss to Dallas go beyond D'Angelo Russell's absence: None of the possible reasons seemed plausible. The Lakers’ two-hour flight delay to arrive here the night before due to weather concerns could not have fully explained the team’s sluggishness. D’Angelo Russell’s absence from a right knee injury could not fully account for the team’s stagnant offense. Neither could the Lakers’ season-long learning curve. -- The Orange County Register
Lakers lacking definitive leader on young roster: Through sluggish play, the Lakers often could rely on one man to take over a game and take over the locker room. But Kobe Bryant isn’t walking through that door ever again. To a lesser extent, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell isn’t either for the next one or two weeks while nursing a right knee injury. -- The Orange County Register
"We didn't show up to play, honestly, which is frustrating," first-year Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the 49-point drubbing. "Honestly, it's embarrassing for us as a team and for us as an organization, for our Laker fans that are so good to us.
"Again, at this point it is not about every night going out and winning. It is playing a certain style that allows you a chance to win while we are trying to build this thing. It's about getting better and building on games like our last game, and not being satisfied with it. ...
"The effort just wasn't there tonight, which I don't understand. I love our group of guys and I know we are going to bring it next game, but that's not who we are. It was frustrating tonight."
The previous worst margin of defeat in Lakers history was 48, which occurred in a 123-75 loss at Utah last March. This was the most lopsided game in the NBA this season.
The loss came on the 11-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant's historic 81-point performance against the Raptors, the second-most points scored by a single player in a game in NBA history.
The Mavericks (15-29) extended their winning streak in the series to 13 games, blowing the game open by outscoring the Lakers 38-11 in the second quarter. Los Angeles had more turnovers (five) than field goals (four on 17 attempts) during the quarter.
"Tough game. That's it," said guard Jordan Clarkson, one of only two Lakers to score in double figures during the loss. "A loss is a loss."
It was the Mavericks' 13th straight win over the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games this season.
The game was close for 10 minutes, with Dallas leading 23-22 before the Mavericks scored the next 15 straight to blow the game open. Nowitzki had seven during the run.
The Mavericks led 67-33 at the half and never looked back.
Lou Williams led the Lakers with 15.
The Los Angeles D-Fenders -- the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA D-League affiliate -- will change their name to the South Bay Lakers at the end of their 2016-17 season, the team announced Sunday.
The change is partly a nod to the team's location in El Segundo, California, its headquarters since 2006. The team plays and practices in the Lakers' practice facility and will move into the new nearby facility when it opens in the summer of 2017.
The team will also have new colors -- the Lakers' traditional purple and gold but also "South Bay Blue," a nod to the nearby Pacific Ocean.
“I am excited to announce the South Bay Lakers rebrand," team president and CEO Joey Buss said in a statement. "This is an opportunity to leverage the iconic Lakers brand, celebrate our amazing community and emphasize the accomplishments that our franchise has achieved over the last 10 years while we continue to compete for an NBA D-League championship.”
LOS ANGELES -- Lou Williams scored 27 points, Nick Young hit five 3-pointers and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their five-game losing streak with a 108-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
The Lakers even did it without D'Angelo Russell, who left after slipping on their second possession of the game, mildly spraining a ligament in his right knee and straining his right calf.