Stop us if you’ve heard this at some other point this season: The Los Angeles Lakers came into a game hugely shorthanded, competed as best they could, but weren’t able to quite get it all together and wound up losing.
Sound familiar? Yeah, thought so.
Unfortunately in this case, the Lakers’ opponent was a Los Angeles Clippers team that they are currently trying to catch in the standings. At one point, the Lakers held a double-digit lead against their Staples Center roommates, but the momentum shifted and the Clippers won handily, 113-105.
As if things weren’t bad enough with Lonzo Ball still out nursing a sprained ankle and Brandon Ingram sitting Monday night out with a sore shoulder, Kyle Kuzma appeared to sprain his own ankle midway through the fourth quarter.
So now the Lakers find themselves trying to overcome not only an ever-growing injury list and an incredibly tough Western Conference, but math is very much not in their favor. Monday’s loss puts the Lakers six games back of the current eighth seed (the Clippers) with only 18 games to go. In essence, this all but officially knocks the Lakers out of the playoffs.
Rajon Rondo was one of the game’s few bright spots, tallying a season-high 24 points to go with 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first triple-double in a Lakers uniform, although that’s a relatively meaningless achievement given that the Lakers’ season is, in effect, over.
As the game ended and the Lakers walked off the court, a smattering of boos rained down from the Staples Center crowd. The reality of the situation had apparently hit them and the situation was too much to bear. It’s hard to blame them, frankly, given how frustrating this season has gone, and how little effort various Lakers showed at points tonight.
The Lakers will try to bounce back Wednesday against a Denver Nuggets team that is trying to find a groove since adding Isaiah Thomas to its rotation. L.A. will need all the help they can get, but it’s not looking good, either from a mathematical, psychological or medical standpoint.