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Five takeaways from the Lakers' 105-97 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans

It's looking more and more likely that the Lakers will wind up with the second worst record in the NBA this season.

That is a dubious distinction, but one that might help the Lakers keep their first first-round pick this season. They lose it if it falls out of the top three in this year's draft lottery, and having the second worst record gives them better odds of getting a top-three pick than having the third worst record.

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The Phoenix Suns won Sunday night, giving them a two-game lead over the Lakers (19-44). Phoenix (21-42) is perhaps the Lakers' biggest threat to reduce their chances of keeping the pick.

But enough of that. Here are five takeaways from Sunday night's game, a 105-97 loss to the Pelicans.

1. Lakers Coach Luke Walton is not treating the end of this season like the end of the season. He said Sunday that he is still working his players like it's early in the season. They're young. They can take it. And it helps that immediate gains are not his focus.

2. D'Angelo Russell lamented after the game that he was missing some wide-open three-pointers. He missed seven threes before making two late in the fourth quarter to bring the Lakers within one point of the Pelicans. Russell insisted his earlier misses did not cause any hesitation later.

3. Walton's offense is predicated on his players knowing when to pass and when to shoot — understanding good shots vs. bad shots. He was asked specifically about Russell's three-point shooting on Sunday. "With him, there's threes that are good shots when you're hot, and then there's threes that are good shots whether they go in no matter what. And those threes are once the ball's been moved side to side and it comes back to you in rhythm and you're open. Whether you missed nine straight or not, I want you taking that three if you're him. The threes we don't want are when the ball hasn't moved side to side or if it's only been one pass, two passes and we haven't put any pressure on the defense."

4. David Nwaba's 10-day contract will take him through this upcoming Lakers road trip to Dallas and Phoenix. He's certainly making a case for the Lakers to keep him past that, but he said today that he hasn't had any conversations about that.

5. Julius Randle didn't score much, but he otherwise did some things to help the Lakers. Randle had 12 rebounds and six assists.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli

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