SALT LAKE CITY — Poor Lakers. They lose even when they win.
They hammered the similarly woeful Utah Jazz on Monday, 119-104, but damaged their lottery percentages for the draft.
If the Lakers had lost, Utah would have caught them (and Boston) in the overall standings, forging a three-way tie for the NBA's fourth-worst record.
Now the Lakers (26-55) will probably finish with the sixth-worst record and a 6.3% chance at the No. 1 pick at the May 20 lottery.
The fourth-worst team has an 11.9% chance of landing the No. 1 pick and the fifth-worst has an 8.8% chance.
Coach Mike D'Antoni pledged ahead of time that the Lakers would try to win. They succeeded at that at EnergySolutions Arena.
Nick Young had 41 points and Jodie Meeks had 23 points to help end a seven-game losing streak.
"You can't tell a guy … what are you going to tell him, don't play hard?" D'Antoni said. "That's not right."
D'Antoni said he was unaware of the lottery percentages and how the victory negatively affected the Lakers there. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has said the Lakers wouldn't try to tank because "I'm not a karma guy, but if you try to manipulate this thing, it never works out the way you think it's going to work out."
So the Lakers are now two games better than Utah (24-57) and one game ahead of Boston (25-56) with one game left to play Wednesday at San Antonio. Boston finishes the same day at home against Washington.
Don't tell Robert Sacre about a victory possibly hurting the Lakers.
"I'm trying not to hear that," he said. "We're all trying to compete. No one wants to hear that."
Jordan Farmar, who experienced two championship runs on his first tour with the Lakers, smiled when told that some fans wanted the team to lose to Utah.
"They're the same people who were mad that we were losing all year," he said. "It will work out. I don't think the person with the most [pingpong] balls got the highest pick anyway for the longest time. I think it's better for us if you look at it that way. It's going to bounce where it's going to bounce."
Monday's game was weird for many reasons. A small pocket of Lakers fans started a fairly loud "Keep Gasol" chant in the fourth quarter as Pau Gasol sat on the bench in a suit, unable to play because of vertigo.
Then they chanted the names of Jordan Hill and Meeks. Die-hards for sure.
For a while, it was tough to predict which way this would go. Utah was 29th in the league in scoring and the Lakers were 29th in defense. So they were fittingly tied through three quarters, 86-86.
Alec Burks finished with 22 points for Utah, but Young was the story in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points on three-pointers, layups, running bank shots, free throws, whatever.
"That's what the game is about, having fun," he said before referring to his popular nickname. "And 'Swaggy P' out there hitting threes."