DALLAS — The Lakers didn't allow 137 points again. It didn't matter.
Their 110-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks was more like a slow, steady drain that didn't become an obvious conclusion until midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday.
Too many times, a Lakers possession looked like this: Dallas steal, Dallas fastbreak, Dallas layup. More mundane but more often, there was also plenty of: Lakers miss, Mavericks rebound.
Coach Mike D'Antoni reverted to gallows humor when reminded of the woes of the Lakers (14-21) and the looming number of road games this month.
"That's why they give me the room on the second floor. If I jump I'll just break an ankle," he said.
The Mavericks' starting backcourt combined for a lot of steals (10 to be exact) and Nick Young might be the latest man down, acknowledging after a one-for-seven night that his back was hurting.
He was injured two days earlier when Denver guard Nate Robinson knocked him down with a foul on a fastbreak. Young pledged to play Wednesday against Houston. Or at least try, seeing how the Lakers have only eight healthy players if he can't suit up.
"We're so short, I'm trying not to miss [any] games," he said.
Young was motivated by, of all things, the Lakers' pre-game layup lines. More specifically, how few players could take part in them at American Airlines Center, he said.
It won't get easier in Houston, where Dwight Howard is presumably happy the Lakers are struggling. Or maybe he simply doesn't care.
It's tough to hate these Lakers. They play hard. Just not well.
Pau Gasol was still here, though. He had 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists against Dallas.
Then he revealed his thoughts on an inaccurate report a few days ago that he had been traded. He said he was watching "The Lion King" musical with his parents and younger brother when ESPN 710 declared on Twitter that a "deal is done" with Cleveland and Gasol would be officially traded the next day.
"I was enjoying a great musical at the Pantages Theatre and all of a sudden I checked my Twitter at intermission and I see it's almost official," he said. "I was getting all these messages of 'Farewell, thanks for all your services.'
"That kind of affected a little bit the rest of the show."
There are still several weeks until the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
"I know probably there are going to be other rumors and potential trades coming up, but I can't really worry about it," Gasol said. "You kind of get used to it. It's a reality and you deal with it. You stay positive, you stay focused and strong."
Gasol has definitely been down this road, most notably December 2011 when NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed a three-team trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers and Gasol to Houston.
"Obviously I'm glad that I continue to be a Laker," Gasol said of the latest series of rumors and bogus media reports. "It felt like it was pretty much done at times, or that's the way the media put it out or leaked it out or things like that. It feels good to survive, I guess, and live to fight another day. That's what they say, right?"
The Lakers won't survive if they continue to shoot seven for 25 in the fourth quarter. And allow themselves to get picked clean. Dallas had 17 steals, five each by Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon.
Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and Vince Carter had 19 for Dallas (20-15), helping offset 24 points by Jodie Meeks and another solid night by Kendall Marshall (18 points and six assists but also six turnovers).
"It just hurts to lose," Young said. "Right now we're in the hole that you just keep getting buried and keep getting buried."
Twitter: @Mike_BresnahanCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times