Say what you want about the Lakers. There's plenty of material.
Numbingly poor record. Bloated payroll. Uninspiring roster. It's all true.
But there's also a reality emerging while the Lakers lose game after game — they don't go down easily.
They were 35 games behind the Golden State Warriors in the standings at Monday's tipoff. They had chances to beat them a few hours later.
The ending was almost predictable — 108-105, Warriors — but the last month created a best-of-both-worlds for the franchise, if superlatives could even be used at this point. The Lakers are, after all, 17-49.
They're not getting pummeled and they're holding on to their top-five-protected lottery pick (for now). The Lakers have lost nine of their last 13 games, none of them by double digits.
What does it all mean? Almost nothing. Just the continuation of a season that's been amiss since right around the time the Lakers lost by 23 here in early November.
Mychal Thompson, the Lakers' excitable radio analyst, might have hit on something close to the truth while being interviewed earlier in the day for a story on his son, Warriors All-Star Klay Thompson.
"You've got to commend [Lakers Coach] Byron Scott," Thompson said. "Look at how this team is comprised and just about every game they're not getting blown out."
It won't be in the year-end video — if one is even made, a highly questionable endeavor at this point — but the Lakers' last one-sided loss was Feb. 11 at Portland, 102-86.
Monday's game ended with a strange quirk: Wesley Johnson was dribbling the ball past half court and was about to launch a three-point attempt that could have tied the score.
The ball was stripped by Draymond Green and bounced out of bounds off Johnson with 1.5 seconds left. The Warriors inbounded the ball without any trouble and the game ended.
That's the Lakers. Only so close. And very, very far.
"Losing is losing. No moral victories. Guys are doing a great job of competing but at the end of the day, you either win or you lose," Scott said.
Johnson had a good game until those final seconds, scoring 16 points. Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington each had 17. The Lakers, though, couldn't stop Klay Thompson (26 points) or Curry, who had 19 points after a slow start.
The energy at Oracle Arena was mildly reminiscent of the excitement at Lakers games a few years back.
Fans gave the Warriors a standing ovation during a second-quarter timeout simply because the scoreboard suddenly showed in big block letters: "Dallas 119, Oklahoma City 115."
It meant Golden State officially clinched a playoff spot and led to repeated syllabic "Warr-iors" chants.
Later, there were "M-V-P" chants from the 114th consecutive sold-out crowd at Oracle Arena as Curry attempted free throws in the final seconds.
The Lakers actually beat Golden State in December, 115-105, as Kobe Bryant sat out to rest.