USA TODAY Sports
On a night where getting blown out for their sixth straight loss wasn't even close to the most depressing piece of news, the Los Angeles Lakers season looks inevitably different now.
A game happened tonight. The Lakers lost. Kevin Durant was brilliant, Russell Westbrook slightly less so, and the Lakers played like a team with knowledge of the inevitable conclusion. So, we're going in a different direction for tonight's recap.
Narrator: [A] movie doesn't come all on one big reel. It comes on a few. So someone has to be there to switch the projectors at the exact moment that one reel ends and the next one begins. If you look for it, you can see these little dots come into the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Tyler Durden: In the industry, we call them "cigarette burns."
Narrator: That's the cue for a changeover. He flips the projectors, the movie keeps right on going, and nobody in the audience has any idea.
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their sixth straight contest to an OKC team that dominated them nearly from start to finish, and that wasn't even close to the worst thing that happened. During the game, Mike Trudell broke the news that Jordan Hill is likely done for the season, Dwight Howard still has pain in his shoulder and will not play until he is pain free, and Pau Gasol is still suffering enough from his concussion last Sunday that he was told not to come in to Staples Center to watch the game because he is supposed to avoid bright lights and loud noises. That, my friends, was the changeover.
Tonight was the moment in which the Lakers season switched officially from a disappointing one that still had a shot at redemption into an ultra depressing one in which any bright light is quickly and unilaterally extinguished. Jordan Hill was a bright light, perhaps the brightest light the team had, in terms of how he played vs. what was expected of him. With the possible exception of Steve Nash, there is no player on the roster that we fans liked more than Jordan Hill. His season being over hurts more than if we received the same news for Pau or Dwight, not because he is a better player or better producer than either star, but because we enjoyed watching him play more, enjoyed watching him give everything.
While we're at it, the news surrounding the other two Lakers bigs was similarly negative. That Pau Gasol has not yet returned from his concussion, and is having difficulty with bright lights and loud noises, means that his injury falls into that gray area in which we find out just how little we know as a species about how the brain works. Pau Gasol could be back in two days. He could be out for the year. Dwight apparently needs to be pain free in his shoulder before the Lakers will let him play again (something which I'm not even sure is tied to that injury ... I'm thinking the Lakers were seeing the same thing that I was re: Dwight's back getting worse and decided some time off might not be the worst thing for him). If the horrendous big man rotation the Lakers have been sporting the last three games is with us for a little while longer, there's no telling who the Lakers might lose to, and every single loss to a team that isn't elite is another dagger in the Lakers' playoff chances.
I could be wrong. Maybe Dwight and Pau both suit up on Sunday. Maybe the Lakers handle their business over the next couple winnable contests. But the Lakers sit at 15-21 with a huge mountain to climb, and half their gear is broken. This overwhelming loss, and this overwhelming news, creating this overwhelming record and reflecting this overwhelming failure ... the symbolism of it all is just too perfect.
We're watching the same movie as we were before, but the cigarette burn that was the news regarding Jordan Hill preceded the changeover that was this game, and the Lakers season now appears to be irrevocably different.