A Los Angeles Lakers season that started with a great deal of hope and optimism has turned for the worse yet again. After beginning 2016-17 at 10-10 with a chance at a playoff berth, the Lakers have dropped 22 of their last 28 games and find themselves with the fourth-worst record in the NBA. As in other recent years, the biggest question of this season seems to be whether they will luck out in the lottery and hold on to their top-three protected first-round draft pick.
The Lakers hit a new low on Sunday in their visit to the Dallas Mavericks. And by that we don’t mean a low just for this season, but a franchise-record loss. The Mavs led 67-33 at halftime and added to that margin on their way to a 122-73 win. The 49-point loss and 34-point halftime deficit are records for the Lakers, the most consistently successful franchise in NBA history.
The Lakers matched their previous franchise-worst defeat last March in a 48-point loss to the Utah Jazz. That was also the worst loss of Kobe Bryant’s career.
Kobe made the news again on Sunday, although for all the wrong reasons for the Lakers. The game with the Mavericks marked the 11th anniversary of Bryant’s career-best 81-point explosion against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. The Lakers scored eight points fewer on Sunday than Bryant did that day, all while taking 25 more shots from the floor.
The stats don’t get any better as you move through the box score. Only two Lakers scored in double figures, but three finished with a plus-minus of negative-34 or worse. That trio includes rookie Brandon Ingram, whose negative-45 ranks as the 10th-worst plus-minus since 2000-01:
9 worse plus/minus games since 2000-01 than what Ingram went through today pic.twitter.com/5JXoEszRq4
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) January 22, 2017
To make things worse, the Mavericks, who entered the day in a virtual tie with the Lakers in the standings, didn’t even play that far above their abilities. Dallas shot 49.4 percent from the field and made 17-of-37 three-pointers (43.6 percent), numbers that look very good but which certainly don’t seem like crazy outliers. The biggest issue in the game was the Lakers’ own failure — they turned it over 17 times against only 11 assists and looked overmatched throughout.
There is no indication that things will get better for head coach Luke Walton and his young team. Second-year point guard D’Angelo Russell stands to miss the next week or two due to knee and calf injuries, and the Lakers will play nine or their next 11 on the road as Staples Center prepares to host the Grammy Awards. Losses of this magnitude won’t become the norm, but several more blowouts shouldn’t come as a shock.
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