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Lakers getting healthy, but is it too late?

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At 16-30, the Lakers are currently tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 24th-25th place.

That's a difficult place to be with 36 games left to play during the 2013-14 NBA season.

"The great group of guys that we have, guys that are not willing to quit," said Gasol after practice on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Lakers saw Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow) and Jordan Farmar (hamstring) return from injury. None will play Friday but all three could suit up next week. 

Eventually Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry should both be back from knee injuries.

Unfortunately for the team, the season is already lost.

At 9 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Dallas Mavericks (26-21), the playoffs are all but out of the picture.

The worse the Lakers do this season, the better their chances at a top prospect in the 2014 NBA draft.

"If we play well -- if we get some good wins and some winning streaks -- whether at the end if we make it or not," said Gasol.  "At least the games we play from this point on ... it's been a more positive result."

Perhaps a more positive result to the players currently on the team, but not long-term when it comes down to the NBA draft lottery.

The Lakers aren't likely to catch the Milwaukee Bucks (8-37) or Orlando Magic (12-35), but at the team's current pace, the Lakers could end up with the third-worst record in the NBA.

If the Lakers win even a handful of games, they could finish closer to ninth or 10th.

The team didn't set out to lose when the season began. It just happened organically.

It would be a shame for the Lakers to start winning now, only to land an unimpressive draft pick after missing the playoffs.

ALSO:

Kendall Marshall set to match Steve Blake with 15 starts at point

Pau Gasol says he's probable Friday, despite groin injury

With Kobe Bryant ailing, Lakers to be absent from All-Star game

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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