The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 120-97 on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, guaranteeing that the 2013-14 Lakers will be the worst team in franchise history since moving to LA.
Sunday’s loss offered an overbearing reminder of exactly how and why these Lakers will hold the distinction of being the worst LA Lakers team ever. Injuries ended the game as a contest on Sunday.
Starting the game with only nine healthy players, the Lakers were at a giant disadvantage against a team widely recognized as a worthy title contender. Then, the injuries hit, and the Lakers never recovered. The previous statement can be applied to the game and the season.
The final “battle for LA” was competitive for the first 14 minutes. The Lakers even took a brief lead at the start of the second quarter. About a minute later, though, Lakers guard Kent Bazemore went down and did not get back up. He was helped off the floor and immediately had X-rays that came back negative. Bazemore will undergo an MRI on his right foot Monday.
Without Bazemore, the eight-man Lakers allowed the Clippers to open a healthy double-digit lead before closing the first half down eight points. Were any of the eight remaining players named “Pau Gasol,” “Kobe Bryant” or “Steve Nash,” the Lakers may have fared better in the second half.
Instead, the Lakers’ eight survivors included rookie Ryan Kelly and second-year players Kendall Marshall and Robert Sacre. With MarShon Brooks out of favor, the seven-man, in-effect, Lakers struggled to compete in the second half.
Approaching the end of the third quarter, the Lakers hovered around a 20-point differential. Fans dressed in purple and gold wondered how this day could possibly get worse. As has been the case all season long, the Lakers answered those rhetorical questions immediately.
Nick Young hurt his knee and stayed down long enough to force a full timeout. Young would eventually get up and walk over to the bench and even re-enter the game, but he was pulled soon after.
“I just twisted my knee a little bit,” Young said after the game. “I’m still trying to play till the end. We only got, what, five more games left? And like I said, I’m just trying to go down with the ship.”
In the final 12 minutes, the Clippers emptied their bench with only one of their five starters seeing any time in the fourth quarter. The Lakers, conversely, did not even have a bench to empty. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lakers hobbled into the locker room with seven healthy bodies.
On Sunday, the Lakers hit the mark that guarantees the worst season in the history of the franchise since moving to LA, and watching Sunday's game, no one had trouble understanding how it happened.
Young summed up the game and season succinctly: “It’s hard when everybody’s getting hurt.”