Lakers eliminated from playoff hunt

LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday, marking their earliest elimination since the franchise moved to L.A. before the 1960-61 season.

The Lakers were officially knocked out when the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Brooklyn Nets.

They later beat the Detroit Pistons 93-85 to improve to 17-46.

Their elimination marks only the seventh time in franchise history that the Lakers will miss the postseason and only the second time that they've missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons (1974-75 and 1975-76).

"I don't think about that, to be honest with you," coach Byron Scott said of the Lakers' elimination. "I'm just thinking about the process of this team continuing to get better and just sticking with what we talked about on both ends of the floor. From day one to now, we've gotten better on the defensive end. That's what I've been preaching all season long, so that makes me happy. We've got to continue to do that for the next 19 games."

This postseason absence is all the more unusual considering the Lakers have the most playoff appearances of any NBA team -- 60 in 67 seasons, ahead of their rival Boston Celtics, who have 51 appearances in 69 seasons.

The Lakers' .258 winning percentage this season would mark their worst in franchise history, topping last season's mark of .329, their worst winning percentage since moving from Minneapolis to L.A. in 1960.

In May, the Lakers are slated to participate in only their fourth draft lottery since it was introduced in 1985.

In their previous lottery appearances, the Lakers selected Eddie Jones 10th overall in 1994, Andrew Bynum 10th overall in 2005 and Julius Randle seventh overall last season.

The Lakers' 2015 first-round draft pick is top-five protected, meaning the Lakers will send the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it lands outside the top five picks, stemming from the Steve Nash sign-and-trade back in 2012 with Phoenix.

The 76ers acquired the pick from the Suns at this year's trade deadline.

The Lakers currently have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, and four games separate them from the next-best team (Orlando Magic, 21-43).

If the Lakers finish in that fourth spot, they will have an 82.8 percent chance of retaining their first-round pick heading into the lottery.

However, the incentive for the Lakers to lose down the stretch is high, as that number jumps to 96 percent if they finish with the third-worst record.

That spot is currently occupied by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are 1.5 games worse than the Lakers.

The Lakers also have a 2015 first-round pick from Houston, which came over in the Jeremy Lin trade last season.

That pick currently would be 27th overall based on the Rockets having the league's fourth-best record.