Twelve healthy Lakers were called upon to take down the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
It did not happen.
But that really wasn’t a surprise in a season that is almost certainly going to be the worst in franchise history, the Lakers’ 106-77 loss to the Hawks at Staples Center just another step in that direction.
“Just going into the game we knew it was going to be very tough for us,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said.
The Lakers (12-51) would have to win 10 of their final 19 games to top last season’s low-water mark of 21-61.
On the flip side, the more the Lakers lose this season, the better chance they have at keeping their draft pick.
It’s a first-round pick that is top-three protected that could be lost as a part of the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers have the second-worst record in the NBA, which improves their chances of keeping their pick at 56% if they don’t fall below the third spot on lottery night.
Without Kobe Bryant (sore right shoulder), Jordan Clarkson (strained tendon in left knee) and Lou Williams (strained left hamstring) all out, the Lakers were hard-pressed to beat the Hawks.
“You’re missing your three guys that do the bulk of your scoring,” Scott said. “So [I was] just searching tonight to try to find somebody that had consistency on that end the floor.”
Anthony Brown, who started at small forward in Bryant’s spot, scored seven points.
And D’Angelo Russell, who had scored 63 points in his last two games, was far from the player who said he had “ice in my veins” after he scored a career-high 39 points against Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
Against the Hawks, Russell was, well, ice cold. He missed 13 of his 16 shots, five of his six three-pointers to finish with seven points, five assists and five turnovers.
“I think he had four really good games. I think sooner or later you expect him to have one that’s subpar,” Scott said. “He’s not going to go through the rest of the season where he’s going to have 27-point games every night.
Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr., right, retrieves a loose ball against Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. during the first half Friday night.(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Lakers forward Brandon Bass looks to score inside against Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha (25) and center Al Horford (15) during the first half,(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Lakers guard Marcelo Huertas pass the ball behind Hawks forward Paul Millsap during the first half.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Hawks point guard Jeff Teague splits the defense of Lakers forward Metta World Peace, left, and point guard D’Angelo Russell on a drive to the basket during the second half of their game Friday night at Staples Center.(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Lakers forward Brandon Bass and Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. battle for a rebound during the second half.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. protects the ball from the reach of Hawks forward Kris Humphries during the second half.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Hawks guard Dennis Schroder drives past Lakers guard Marcelo Huertas during the second half.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Hawks center Al Horford tries to drive the baseline against Lakers forward Brandon Bass during the second half.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
“He’s going to have his ups and downs. I think for the most part he’ll come back and he’ll have four or five more good games. Then he’ll have another game where he doesn’t play extremely well. It just happens.”
Julius Randle was solid again, collecting his 26th double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds).
Brandon Bass had 12 points and seven rebounds on a night the Lakers shot 34.1% from the field, while the Hawks made 54.4%, including 46.4% (13 for 28) of their three-pointers.
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter: @BA_Turner