Lakers

Despite their best efforts, Lakers' skid reaches seven with 128-119 loss to Grizzlies

Byron Scott had a message for Lakers fans who wanted their team to lose.

Sorry, the Lakers will keep trying to win.

Lottery enthusiasts need not worry. Trying to win and actually succeeding remained entirely different concepts.

See the most-read stories in Sports this hour>>

The Lakers fell Wednesday to the Memphis Grizzlies, 128-119, for a staggering 48th loss in 59 games.

D'Angelo Russell showed some spark and there was an entertaining Matt Barnes-Kobe Bryant matchup, but lottery talk carried the day.

For the second consecutive season, the Lakers' draft pick will be surrendered if they fall below a certain spot in the May 17 lottery.

Last year, they needed a top-five pick to keep it and fortuitously moved from fourth to second on lottery night.

The wiggle room is smaller this time. Their first-round pick is only top-three protected or else they surrender it because of the Steve Nash trade.

The Lakers own the NBA's second-worst record, giving them a 55.83% chance of keeping the pick and creating the second annual Lakers quandary — losing now helps them later in the lottery.

Scott didn't want to hear about it.

"You don't go out there trying to lose basketball games," he said before Wednesday's game. "I think that's a bad way to present that to your team — 'We're trying to lose so we can protect the top-three pick.' That's a bad omen to me.

"So I would never, even behind closed doors, tell my players, tell my coaches, tell my trainers or anybody that we were trying to lose games on purpose to protect the pick."

He wasn't quite done.

"I'm not coaching, looking at the clock, going, 'All right, man, if we can just turn it over a few more times and miss a few more shots, this game is in the bag as far as a loss is concerned.' That's not me," he said.

The Lakers are wedged between the worst team in the league, Philadelphia (8-49), and the third-worst team, Phoenix (14-43).

Lottery lovers, unite! The Lakers play the Suns twice next month.

If Russell keeps progressing, the Lakers might win both games. He looked confident while amassing 22 points and a career-high eight assists at FedEx Forum in his third consecutive game as a starter.

"It's much easier for him when he does start to be able to control the game," said Bryant, who had 13 points on five-for-14 shooting.

Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson will each play 30 minutes a game the rest of the way, according to Scott.

This was good news for Russell, who lost his starting job 20 games into the season before getting it back last week.

"Earlier in the year, I probably was given that starting spot and didn't have to work for it," Russell said. "I'm not going to try to give [Scott] a reason to bench me again."

If only the Lakers could bench their whole defense. They've allowed an average of 113 points during a seven-game losing streak.

Scott faulted Clarkson and Russell, who let Mike Conley (24 points) and P.J. Hairston (17 points) have their way. Bryant had trouble with Barnes, letting his former teammate beat him for 25 points.

In other words, there was plenty of blame to spread. Just like so many of the other losses.

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Facebook and Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 25, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Lakers losing despite trying - Scott says he's coaching only to win, but defeat to Grizzlies extends skid to seven. - MEMPHIS 128 LAKERS 119" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
Loading
59°