The Lakers (16-46) lost their fifth consecutive game on Sunday night, falling to the Dallas Mavericks (41-24). Here are five takeaways from their 100-93 loss at Staples Center.
1. The Lakers outplayed the Mavericks for most of the game, but Monta Ellis was an issue in the second half. Over the first 24 minutes of play, Ellis scored just five points. In the third quarter, he exploded for 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting, including four of five from three-point range. The veteran guard added eight in the fourth, including five late that ultimately put away the Lakers.
He finished with a game-high 31 points.
"The biggest thing for me was to just get more aggressive," Ellis said. "Sometimes I can be my own enemy when I go to the basket and don't get the calls I think I should get."
2. The Lakers used their 11th different starting lineup of the season on Sunday. Coach Byron Scott moved Tarik Black to center for Robert Sacre, Jordan Hill to power forward for Carlos Boozer and Wesley Johnson to small forward for Ryan Kelly.
Scott said he expects to use the same starting group for about 10 games, which could mean Sacre is out of the rotation during that stretch (although Scott noted pregame, he may sit out Ed Davis from time to time for Sacre).
The Lakers have only three healthy guards, with Nick Young still battling through a knee injury. Scott prefers Jeremy Lin off the bench with Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington starting, although he allowed for the possibility of changes there too before the end of the season.
3. Rebounding was a strength for the Lakers against the Mavericks. The team collected 15 offensive boards to just six for Dallas, and 47-33 overall.
"They hit us for 24 offensive rebounds last time we played them, so we knew this was a challenging game on the boards, there's just no two ways about it," said Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle. "They play two really big guys all the time, and they're always sending two to the offensive glass."
4. Jordan Clarkson had a solid game, with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists -- although he turned the ball over four times, and looked flustered late in the fourth.
"He will keep learning," said Scott. "Jordan's not the problem. Jordan's one of our bright spots. We will keep putting him in situations like this and he will continue to get better."
5. The Lakers are holding firm with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, important for positioning in the draft lottery, given the Lakers will give their pick to the Philadelphia 76ers (via Phoenix Suns) if it's not a top-five selection.
The Lakers are "behind" the Minnesota Timberwolves (14-47), Philadelphia 76ers (14-49) and New York Knicks (12-49). The closest two teams to the Lakers in the standings are the Orlando Magic (21-43) and Sacramento Kings (21-40). The Lakers seem to have a firm advantage with 20 games to play of holding now worse than the fourth position in the lottery.
The Lakers still play the Timberwolves and 76ers twice each and the Knicks once. The Knicks and 76ers still play each other twice as well. The only way the Lakers can guarantee themselves a top-five pick is to finish with the first or second-worst records in the NBA. At third their odds are still high at 96%, but in their current fourth position, it's a less comfortable 83.8%.