Pau Gasol considered the question. Was this the worst loss he’d ever experienced in the regular season?
There were surely more painful ones in his career, but they were followed by months of basketball silence — Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals: Boston 131, Lakers 92; Game 4 of the 2011 Western Conference semifinals: Dallas 122, Lakers 86; Game 4 of the first round last season: San Antonio 103, Lakers 82.
Friday’s embarrassment against the Clippers is followed by the NBA equivalent of an awful Groundhog Day — three more months of bad basketball.
The Lakers (14-23) are going nowhere this season, so Gasol might as well tell the truth. Everyone already knew the answer after the Lakers’ 123-87 loss to the Clippers, their largest in 431/2 years of playing them.
“It’s tough to go through as a player,” Gasol said. “I don’t like losing. I don’t like losing against anyone, especially like this.”
Gasol sighed a couple of times, looking very much like the last Laker standing, certainly the only healthy one with championship experience.
This is the first time the Lakers have lost 10 of 11 since he joined them in 2008. The 19 points and 18 rebounds he took in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals couldn’t seem further away.
“You’re going to have some good years when things are going to work out and go your way. I was fortunate to be part of a great stretch and right now we’re kind of on the opposite end,” he said.
He didn’t need to remind Lakers fans that Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry sat out because of injuries.
Clippers fans didn’t care. They laughed when the scoreboard showed Lakers fans in Bryant jerseys leaving in the fourth quarter.
It was surprising Lakers fans stayed that long. Their team trailed through toward the end of the third, 101-59.
Gasol would have to start the blame with himself. He was five for 15 with only 10 points in 25 minutes. No blocked shots, no free throws.
But the guy to really worry about Friday was Jodie Meeks, who somehow had a minus-43 in the plus-minus category.
The Lakers had a ridiculous nine turnovers in the first quarter. Eventually, every one of them committed a turnover except Ryan Kelly.
Even the ever-friendly Nick Young sounded annoyed, calling the game “embarrassing” (accurately) and something that “shouldn’t happen, period” (after it did).
He then challenged teammates to act more like enforcers on the court. If ya can’t beat them, at least foul them.
“Can’t let people just dunk on us and clown us without giving them a hard foul or even showing any emotion,” he said.
Bryant, Nash, Blake and Farmar are all still two or three weeks from returning. The Lakers play Cleveland on Tuesday and then start a season-long seven-game trip in Phoenix, where they just lost by 27.
Good times, no?
“Right now, it seems like teams are playing with too much confidence,” Gasol said. “They’re taking for granted that the Lakers are just an easy game, that they’re going to come out and are just going to score 120, 130 points, everybody’s going to get their points and it’s going to be a wonderful night. We’ve just got to cut that out somehow.”
Good luck with that.