Lakers evaluate young big men in 127-117 loss to Thunder

Russell Westbrook, Mitch mcGary
Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook celebrates with Thunder forward Mitch McGary after first half dunk against the Lakers during a game on Tuesday.
(Larry W. Smith / EPA)

The already forgettable Lakers season took another bizarre turn to nowhere when Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill sat on the bench an entire game.

Boozer then said he was told by Coach Byron Scott he’d be sitting out “four or five games” so the Lakers could evaluate their young big men.

Tanks a lot?

The Lakers, of course, lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder without Boozer and Hill, who had combined averages of 24.5 points and 15 rebounds per game. The final score Tuesday, 127-117, showed an utter lack of defense by the Lakers, a sad reality on the night Jordan Clarkson had 30 points and seven assists.


The more he plays, the more he looks like the Lakers’ future at point guard. And the more the Lakers play, the more they appear to be making sacrifices to the lottery lords.

The Lakers are 18-51 and owners of the fourth-worst record in the NBA. They are nearly as bad as Philadelphia (17-54) and Minnesota (16-54), the team they play Wednesday, coincidentally enough.

The percentages that are important: The Lakers have a 10.4% chance at the No. 1 pick at the May 19 lottery, Philadelphia has a 15.6% chance and Minnesota has a 19.9% shot. The woeful New York Knicks (14-57) have a 25% chance at the top pick.

Boozer is a free agent in July and essentially playing for his next contract but isn’t upset about the benching, at least publicly.


“Byron came and talked to us, me and J-Hill, before the road trip so we knew,” Boozer said. “He said he wanted to take a good look at the rest of the young guys … so me and J-Hill are, I guess, just resting for the next four or five games.

“It makes sense for the future, trying to figure out and evaluate what guys you want to bring back in the future and give guys an opportunity to play and shine.”

Scott wasn’t at Tuesday’s game and planned to stay in Southern California until at least Thursday to attend funeral services for his mother, Dorothy, who passed away last week at 72 after a long illness.

Assistant Paul Pressey, a member of the NBA all-defensive team twice as a player in the 1980s, took over for Scott on Tuesday. He could not have liked what he saw.

Oklahoma City was on pace for 136 points at halftime and the Lakers were on pace for … a lot less.

Four of the five Thunders starters were already in double-figure scoring as Oklahoma City took a 68-53 lead.

In a game without Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Serge Ibaka, power forward Enes Kanter almost stole the thunder from teammate Russell Westbrook, who finished with 27 points and 11 assists at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Kanter had 25 points and 16 rebounds in only 28 minutes.


The Lakers also put up some fancy stats. Clarkson’s numbers spoke for themselves.

Jeremy Lin had 19 points and seven assists in his return to the starting lineup, and two point guards in the same backcourt seemed fine on offense.

Ryan Kelly was also back in the starting lineup and had 16 points, but some of the other young big men weren’t as effective.

Robert Sacre was scoreless in 19 minutes. Rookie Tarik Black had nine points and six rebounds. Ed Davis had 12 points but looked undersized against Oklahoma City’s attack.

It won’t matter much in a few weeks, the Lakers done for the season April 15. By then, they’ll probably have clinched the worst record in franchise history.

Tanks for the memories.

Follow Mike Bresnahan on Twitter @Mike_Bresnahan

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