LOS ANGELES -- How low can the Los Angeles Lakers go in 2014-15? We'll find out soon enough. There are, after all, still a handful of games remaining this season: just 15 after Thursday's outing, not that anyone is counting or anything ...
But the proud franchise reached another dubious milestone with their latest loss, an 80-73 defeat to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
The Lakers have now lost 50 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. They lost a franchise-high 55 games last season and are on pace to top that figure this season.
Their latest defeat was the Lakers' fourth straight and their ninth in 10 games, and it was one of their more brutal games of the season, one in which every bucket seemed like a great struggle. Their point total was a season low; their previous low was 75 in a three-point loss to the Miami Heat on Jan. 13.
Part of the Lakers' scoring difficulty is because the Jazz boast an elite defense; another part is because the Lakers simply don't have much offensive firepower.
Turning point: For as low as the score was, this was still a fairly entertaining back-and-forth contest, featuring 17 lead changes. But Jazz guard Trey Burke hit consecutive driving baskets to give his team a 76-71 cushion with 1:40 left in the fourth. The Lakers turned it over on their next two possessions, killing their chances at a comeback.
Player of the game: Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 22 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 shooting from the free-throw line. He also added five assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Top Laker: Forward Tarik Black nearly posted a double-double by intermission with seven points and 10 rebounds, an impressive line considering he was facing Jazz center Rudy Gobert. But Black had a quiet second half, scoring just six more points while not recording another rebound.
Stat of the game: The Lakers walloped the Jazz in points in the paint, outscoring them 46-22. The Lakers also held a 15-0 edge in second-chance points ...
Second stat of the game: ... but the Jazz hit 13 more free throws and six more 3-pointers, which helped even things out a bit. (The Lakers shot just 8-17 from the free-throw line.)
Randle sighting: Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle sat on his team's bench for the first time since suffering a season-ending broken leg in his NBA debut, the Lakers' regular-season opener. Randle, who was recently cleared for no-contact basketball activities, is expected to travel with the Lakers to their remaining road games.
Up next: The Lakers have two days off before hosting the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at Staples Center. That game promises to be pretty hideous.