The Los Angeles Lakers do not have time to sit and stew about their historic loss Thursday night, as they get right back on the court in Denver against the Nuggets. It might be the best thing for them.
The Lakers were not just beaten last night. They were embarrassed, humiliated, routed, creamed or any other word that means they lost by a lot of points. In what the schedule said was a home game against the other Los Angeles NBA franchise, “Showtime” became “Slowtime” as the Lakers fell to the Clippers 142-94. The game was historic for two reasons. It was the biggest win ever for the Clippers and the largest losing margin ever in the storied history of the Lakers.
It was a balanced team effort for the Clippers. Despite scoring 142 points they had no single player score more than 25, and only two players scored 20 or more. Darren Collison, starting at guard for injured Jamal Crawford, led the team with 24 points on 9-16 from the field. Blake Griffin added 20. The win was the sixth in a row for the Clippers, which is their season high. Paul Gasol had 21 to lead the Lakers, who had only three players in double digits.
Getting back on the court could get the Lakers’ minds off just how bad Thursday night’s loss was. The last time they lost by more than 40 points was 1995 in a 129-93 loss to the Trailblazers at Portland. Before Thursday night, the Lakers’ worst home loss was to the Boston Celtics 129-90 in 1960.
For the Lakers the loss dropped their record to 21-41 on the season—21.5 games in back of the Clippers in the Pacific division of the Western Conference. More importantly, they now find themselves 15 games behind the Dallas Mavericks for a final playoff spot. They are in danger of finishing with their worst record since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1959.
This season has not been a bed of roses for the Nuggets either. Under new coach Brian Shaw, whom many once thought was in line to coach the Lakers, Denver has sputtered this year. At 26-34, they are not in much better shape than the Lakers for a post-season berth. With stars like Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson and JaVale McGee out for the season with injuries, the Nuggets have stumbled to a 2-8 record in their last 10 games. Their one cause for hope is the recent return of point guard Ty Lawson from an injured rib. Lawson has averaged 25.5 points and 9 rebounds since coming back in February.
The Lakers haven’t been without injuries this year either. They are still without Kobe Bryant and Nick Young because of knee injuries, and Steve Nash with a nerve root irritation. Jordan Hill is still nursing a sore knee, and his status is unclear. When the Lakers step back onto the court Friday night against the Nuggets, coach Mike D’Antoni will have to find someone healthy enough to defend against Lawson. He’ll also have to find some players fresh enough to last 48 minutes in the mile-high air of Colorado.
By Chuck Podhaisky