A wise woman once said about basketball:
Sometimes when you win, you really lose. Sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie.
Or maybe it was about life. I'm not really sure, because I was pretty young at the time, and the whole thing confused me so I didn't think what she was saying made a whole lot of sense. Now, I get it. She was talking about this Los Angeles Lakers season.
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers lost. They lost baaaaaaad. They lost by 22 points, at home, to a team that isn't even playing .500 ball, a team that quite recently lost 8 straight games themselves. The Denver Nuggets are not a good team. And yet, the Nuggets scored 111 points IN THE FINAL 3 QUARTERS of tonight's blowout. In seasons past, a loss like this would have been an embarrassment, a travesty, a crime against the people who paid good money to see the Lakers play basketball. Tonight? This loss is a win all the way.
Tonight, the Lakers lost a game they could have won. This was a "winnable" contest, against a mediocre team at home. This is the kind of game the Lakers might even be expected to win. The kind of game where the Lakers just needed some kind of spark to get the crowd rocking, build up a big lead and either hold on or coast to victory. Instead of getting a spark, the Lakers couldn't hit a shot to save their lives, going 3-21 from 3 point range. They refused to prevent the Nuggets from getting offensive rebounds, giving up 17 in total (and that's no small feat, considering Denver shot 54% from the floor). Pau Gasol led the charge, simultaneously playing well enough to drive up his trade value and poorly enough to help the Lakers lose by a large margin. That's an impressive feat.
For these reasons, this loss was far more valuable than the ones that will inevitably come against the San Antonios and Oklahoma Citys of the world. There will be many more losses in this Lakers season, and those losses will flow freely like wine in the fountains of Mount Olympus. But losing a game like this? As badly as the Lakers did? That's hard damn work, right there, and its exactly the kind of work that will benefit the Lakers the most in this awful, God-forsaken season.
Sometimes, when you lose, you really do win. Lakers fans would be wise to embrace the philosophy whole-heartedly. Otherwise, you're in for a rough year.