The Lakers (20-54) fell on Wednesday night to the New Orleans Pelicans (40-34). Here are five takeaways from their 113-92 loss at Staples Center.
1. Wayne Ellington suffered a mild separated shoulder, requiring X-rays after the game. The good news for the veteran guard is that he won't need surgery.
Ellington said the injury was painful and that he was told he'll feel worse before he gets better. But he added that he was ultimately lucky the injury wasn't more serious.
His status, unofficially, is in question for at least the next few days.
2. Is Jordan Clarkson a point guard, shooting guard or some sort of combination of the two?
The answer may determine how the Lakers approach free agency.
Against the Pelicans, Clarkson looked every bit a point guard, scoring 18 points on just nine shot attempts, while dishing 10 assists with one turnover.
Clarkson finished three rebounds short of notching the Lakers' first rookie triple-double since Magic Johnson.
This is coming off Clarkson's 26-point, 11-assist, six-rebound and three-steal performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
3. Tarik Black set a career high with 16 points, hitting his first six shots and eight of 10 overall.
Ryan Kelly continued to improve, playing his natural position at power forward after trying to learn the three for a long stretch. Kelly finished with 12 points and three assists, going against all-star Anthony Davis.
The issue for the Lakers was on the defensive side of the game, with the team giving up 56.4% shooting from the field and 56.2% from three-point range.
"There was a stretch where it felt like they hit everything and we didn't hit anything," said Jeremy Lin. "I felt like on our offensive end, we were getting good shots. We just weren't hitting them."
4. The Pelicans needed the win with the eighth-place Oklahoma City Thunder (42-33) losing to the Dallas Mavericks (46-29). New Orleans is hoping to steal a playoff berth, and is now just 1 1/2 games behind the Thunder.
"We talked about this being a huge game for us," said Pelicans Coach Monty Williams. "We weren't going to overlook this team because they played so well on the road, and we wanted to take care of business."
"Our task at hand was to win tonight's game," he said. "We know who we're fighting with. [The] Phoenix [Suns are] in that battle as well. We're not going to disrespect any organization or team by worrying about them while we are playing somebody else."
5. The Lakers continue to hold the fourth-worst record in the NBA, important for positioning in the draft lottery. If the Lakers do not finish with a top-five selection, the pick will go to the Philadelphia 76ers (via the Phoenix Suns).
The Lakers are "behind" the 76ers (18-58), Minnesota Timberwolves (16-59) and New York Knicks (14-61). The closest team to the Lakers in the standings is the Orlando Magic (22-53). The Lakers are likely to hold on to the fourth position in the lottery, with eight games to play.
The only way the Lakers can 100% guarantee themselves a top-five pick is to finish with the first or second-worst record in the NBA. At third-worst, their odds are still high at 96%, but in their current fourth position, it's a less comfortable 82.8%.