Wednesday night was not a dull affair or a blowout, but it was a typical loss in a season full of failure.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 50th game of the season, but this loss did not hurt as much as others. The half-century mark was commemorated in fitting fashion. This season has been hampered by injuries, and Wednesday was simply another bizarre day in this odd season.
From the team that lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, four rotation players were unable to play on Wednesday night in Sacramento: Steve Nash was too old to play on back-to-backs; Pau Gasol was unable to leave his hotel room with vertigo; Chris Kaman’s calf was acting up and Xavier Henry’s knee was not good enough to go.
“We had a tough trip. Over the flight up, we lost four guys.” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni attempted to once again make light of the lingering injury motif that has cursed the season. “That was a tough flight. I mean, a little turbulence, but I didn’t know it was that much.”
Already facing long odds, the Lakers battled until the final 30 seconds. Down by three points, Kent Bazemore flipped up an open layup with 30 seconds to play. The shot fell off the rim and into the hands of DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings.
Instead of playing defense for the next 24 seconds and attempting to tie the game with a three-point shot, Bazemore took out his frustrations and intentionally fouled. The game immediately jumped to a two-possession contest, and the Lakers went on to lose by a five-point margin, 107-102.
Jodie Meeks, as he has been all season long, was the most consistent player for the purple and gold. Meeks finished with a team-high 21 points. Jordan Hill only shot 5-15 from the field, but he finished with 18 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.
Only one night earlier, Hill was unable to get off the bench against the Blazers.
The 50th loss was typical of the season. Injuries and inexperience accounted for the defeat, and the undeveloped talent was forced into the spotlight. Rookie Ryan Kelly had an impressive two-hand jam at one point, but that was only one of two baskets the 22-year-old converted on the night.
Undersized, undermanned and 25 games under .500, the Los Angeles Lakers have seven games left in a season that should be stripped of its clothes and burnt from memory.