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Lakers have trouble filling Staples Center seats

Los Angeles LakersSportsNBAPro BasketballBasketballStaples CenterDoug McDermott

Another sign of a team in decline — empty seats.

There have been nine non-sellouts at home for the Lakers, a surprising number for a team that enjoyed 270 consecutive packed crowds at Staples Center until earlier this season.

The franchise was startled when the sellout streak ended in mid-November against New Orleans. Now that game is considered the tip of the attendance iceberg.

Last month was particularly bad for the Lakers, who failed to sell out five of eight home games, including one against the Clippers. Not that Lakers fans missed much that night — a staggering 48-point defeat, the largest loss in team history.

"It really proves that at some point when the product goes downhill, it's really hard to hang on to fans," said George Belch, chairman of the San Diego State marketing department.

It didn't help that Kobe Bryant played only six games and Coach Mike D'Antoni hadn't earned much support from fans, Belch added.

"You add the Kobe factor, the coach situation and the roster, and you have the recipe for a dismal season and less fan support," he said.

The Lakers had non-sellouts in two of three home games this month but drew a capacity crowd of 18,997 in a 112-95 loss Friday to Golden State.

Draft talk

The Lakers have never lost this many games in a season. Definitely not too early to look ahead to the June 26 draft.

Duke forward Jabari Parker and Creighton forward Doug McDermott were among a small group of college players who took a Friday morning tour of Staples Center and L.A. Live as part of a stay in L.A. for the Wooden Awards.

"Me and Jabari, this is both of our first times here at the Staples Center. It was really cool seeing the Lakers' floor," McDermott told ESPN 710. "A couple of guys posed in Jack Nicholson's chair."

McDermott, a senior, said he would love to be drafted by the Lakers. He won the Wooden Award as college basketball's best player and would probably be a top-10 player in the draft.

"I grew up watching the Lakers obviously and it's a great organization and some of the best fans, if not the best fans, in the NBA," he said. "I would like that. It's good weather, a lot better weather than I'm used to in the Midwest, so I would not be complaining."

Parker hadn't officially declared for the draft but also liked the idea of playing for the Lakers.

"We come from the Midwest where our weather is kind of terrible, so being here would be a blessing," he said. "You don't have any excuse not to work out at any time of day. It would be a very great opportunity."

To get Parker, the Lakers would have to do well on May 20, the day the lottery takes place. He's a projected top-three pick. The Lakers (25-54) have the league's sixth-worst record.

Two surgeries, one morning

Xavier Henry underwent procedures Friday morning to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist and a cartilage abnormality in his right knee.

The wrist surgery was performed by Steve Shin and the knee procedure by Steve Lombardo, both at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.

Henry played only 43 games this season because of injuries and averaged a career-best 10 points in 21.1 minutes. He becomes a free agent in July and is expected to make a full recovery by the start of NBA training camps.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Twitter: @EricPincus

Bresnahan is a Times staff writer. Pincus is a Times correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles LakersSportsNBAPro BasketballBasketballStaples CenterDoug McDermott
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