LOS ANGELES -- For the first seven seasons of Chris Kaman's career he played for the "other" team in Los Angeles and watched how the Lakers set a standard of excellence that his Clippers and the rest of the league aspired to.
Now that he has played more than half a season for the purple and gold, he's wondering where those winning ways have gone.
"I've never been a part of a team [like this], especially such a great franchise like the Lakers and the longevity that they've had with winning and championships. I think it's a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people," said Kaman, who saw his 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks go for naught in L.A.'s 96-79 loss to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
"Especially the owners and especially the fans who are coming out watching us and supporting us. You know it's going to get better, it's just no one planned on these injuries. No one can anticipate that kind of stuff. It just happens."
What has happened is hard to believe. From a seemingly daily injury occurrence to a cold streak that's getting more frigid by the day, this season's Lakers look nothing like the team that Kaman once viewed from the outside.
The loss was the Lakers' 21st defeat in their past 26 games, dropping them into sole possession of 14th place in the Western Conference, a half game behind the Jazz, a team that is "trying to go for picks," according to Kaman.
While the net result might look like a team going through the motions, the Lakers vow that plummeting isn't part of their plan.
"Everybody knows we want to win," Kaman said. "It's not like we're out here chasing picks. That's not what we're doing at all. I promise."
Whether they have intended to tank or not, all of the losing is testing the loyalty of the fan base. The Lakers had an announced attendance of 18,209 on Tuesday. A capacity crowd at Staples Center is 18,997. It was the Lakers' second non-sellout of the season. Tuesday's loss was the team's sixth straight at home, tying a franchise record. The Lakers last won at Staples on Jan. 3 when they beat the same miserable Jazz team that got the best of them Tuesday.
"You want to get a win for your home fans," said Robert Sacre -- usually the most positive of the Lakers' bunch -- who even let the losing get to him as he was called for a technical foul in the fourth quarter for spiking the ball in anger after making a costly turnover. "Especially the fans that have really been there for us and they're fighting for us and you want to come home and get a win for them, because you know they support us so much. That's the most frustrating part."
It has been frustrating for Lakers fans of course, too. With this season already a lost cause, they're being stripped of the all the fun of fandom: overanalyzing the rotation; assessing how a big win or a tough loss in February could affect the team down the line in the playoffs; anticipating the trade deadline like a kid on Christmas morning, hoping for that one gift of a player.
As Kaman put it: "We lost by 20, so who cares what happened with anybody?"
Apathy. It's the worst feeling a fan can have.
Unfortunately, with 30 games left to play this season, it seems as if about the only thing worth caring about for these Lakers is how many more defeats they can rack up to improve their position on draft night.