An enemy of the Lakers crept back into their lives.
It stayed away for a handful of days, allowing the creation of a modest two-game win streak, but it returned Friday, bad breath, crooked teeth and everything.
The Lakers' defense was dreadful again in a 140-106 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the scoreboard telling the whole truth by showing Dallas with 110 points through three quarters. Three quarters!
The Nick Young-as-savior stories can stop. Same for the Lakers-finding-themselves optimism. This is still a team that gave up 136 points last Sunday to Golden State and let Dallas shoot 62.2%.
"Dumb plays," was the way Lakers Coach Byron Scott put it. "It wasn't the effort, it was just stupid decisions, not doing the things we talked about."
That's four times since March they've done something like this, letting Minnesota, the Clippers and Houston gouge them for more than 140 points. Before that, the Lakers hadn't given up 140 points in a regulation game since November 1993.
The Lakers (3-10) almost created more bad history for themselves, close to matching their largest loss ever to Dallas (36 points) until Jordan Clarkson's dunk with 7.9 seconds to play. They did fail in a less egregious way, losing a franchise-record fourth consecutive regular-season game to the Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki (23 points), Chandler Parsons (21) and Monta Ellis (20 points) all passed their season averages by the end of the third quarter. No need for them to play beyond that at American Airlines Center.
The Lakers did a better job defensively their first two games of this trip, holding Houston to 92 without Dwight Howard and keeping Atlanta to 109, the latter qualifying as a heroic effort for a team routinely allowing meteoric stats.
It might have been that streak, a pittance for a franchise that once won 33 in a row, that cost the Lakers against Dallas.
"You know what? Maybe in that locker room, guys were satisfied with the last two wins and just took this one for granted, started looking forward to going home," Scott said. "You can't do that if you want to be competitive in this league."
Not to be omitted were the shortcomings on offense. Kobe Bryant said his legs felt tired after he scored 17 points on six-for-22 shooting (27.2%). Young made only two of seven shots.
"You try to kind of work your way through it a little bit, but everything's short," Bryant said. "It's just one of those 36-year-old [hiccups]."
It was obviously not the Lakers' night when Bryant missed his first eight shots and Young his first four. Jordan Hill, though, continued to play well, totaling 16 points on seven-for-seven shooting and taking 10 rebounds.
The Lakers' defense against three-point shooters has been superficial at best, a trend that somehow worsened with the Mavericks making 18 of 35 from behind the arc (51.4%).
"The teams that we really struggle with are teams that have a lot of shooters," Bryant said. "Teams that really spread the floor and shoot the three and shoot it well, those are the teams that are blowing us out."