After losing their first three games to their in-arena rival Clippers by a grand total of eight points combined, the Lakers saved their worst effort for last, getting obliterated by 21 against L.A.’s other team on Thursday.
The 132-111 loss is the Lakers’ seventh in their past eight games, and fourth straight since the NBA All-Star break. It also means that the NBA’s premier franchise has now lost to L.A.’s other team every single time they have played each other this season.
All four of those losses came despite the Clippers missing their best players in Kawhi Leonard, and three of them came with the Clippers also missing Paul George. Norman Powell, one of the best role players traded at this season’s deadline and one of the Clippers’ best remaining healthy pieces, was also out for this game due to a fractured bone in his foot.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, meanwhile, played in every single one of those four losses.
For all the “season starts now” jokes that a ton of you reading this have been making in Harrison Faigen’s and Jacob Rude’s Twitter mentions, the 2021-22 Lakers have deteriorated to a point where it’s not even worth pretending to believe in them for the lolz. It’s hard to pinpoint when James and the rest of the team stopped caring, but tonight’s loss is the clearest evidence yet that they have thrown in the towel on this season.
Maybe they’ll drunkenly stumble face first into the play-in tournament like an Arizona State fraternity brother after a long night on Mill Avenue, but does anyone actually think they’ll have any success there? Why should we bother to invest our time and money watching these Lakers if they don’t care to invest enough effort whatsoever on the court?
(Case in point on that last part: the TNT stream on my Roku TV cut out while I was typing that last paragraph. I don’t think I’m going to bother reloading it.)
Of course, a lot of us will still spend way too much time obsessing over this team. I’m not here to judge that. I’ve been a Lakers fan my whole life, too, and “fan” is short for “fanatic” — defined as someone with way too much passion about something — for a reason. I’ll still watch and track this team, partly because of that fanaticism, and partly because SB Nation gives me a monthly check for my work at Silver Screen & Roll that helps cover my rent.
But if you want to give up on this team and spend your time doing more enjoyable things until the roster is overhauled — again — this summer (to say nothing about what changes may come in the front office), I don’t blame you either. LeBron James has clearly punted on this season, so why not follow his lead?
Or, you can spend your Saturday night watching the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors on ABC. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. But to those of you who are planning your weekend around that game with no financial obligation to do so, you’re in my prayers.