With long road trip looming, Lakers plummeting to bottom of standings

With long road trip looming, Lakers plummeting to bottom of standings
Kobe Bryant (24) and Steve Nash spent most of the last two NBA seasons in street clothes, and rarely on the court together, because of injuries. (Nathan Denette / Associated Press)

The Lakers have lost 10 of their last 11 games, dropping to 13th place in the Western Conference.

With a record of 14-23, the Lakers are now only 2 1/2 games ahead of the last-place Utah Jazz (12-26).  The Lakers have a half-game edge over the Sacramento Kings (12-22).

With injuries sidelining Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Xavier Henry (knee), the Lakers are rapidly falling out of the playoff picture.

The Dallas Mavericks (21-16) are in eighth place in the west, seven games ahead of the Lakers.  Four teams ahead of the Lakers are trying to catch Dallas, including the Denver Nuggets (18-17), Minnesota Timberwolves (18-18), Memphis Grizzlies (16-19) and New Orleans Pelicans (15-20).

The Lakers' 123-87 loss on Friday night to the Clippers may have been a low point but the Lakers still have a seven-game road trip on deck, starting Wednesday night in Phoenix.

While that may be good news for fans who want the Lakers to "tank" for a better position in the 2014 NBA draft, the Lakers are still ahead of eight teams, including six in the Eastern Conference.

The Milwaukee Bucks (7-28) may be difficult for the Lakers to catch but, by losing, they're gaining ground on teams like the Orlando Magic (10-26), Philadelphia 76ers (12-24), Boston Celtics (13-24), Cleveland Cavaliers (13-23) and New York Knicks (13-22).

Both the Knicks (who lack a draft pick in 2014) and Cavaliers (who recently acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls) are looking to make playoff pushes in the East.

With the road trip looming, the Lakers could finish January with the third- or even second-worst record in the NBA.

While it may be difficult for fans to watch, the draft could make the current disaster a vital step in the Lakers' rebuild.  This year's crop includes a number of intriguing prospects including Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid from Kansas, Jabari Parker from Duke, Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State, Julius Randle from Kentucky, Aaron Gordon from Arizona and Dante Exum from Australia.

Bryant, Nash and the rest could return near the end of the month, but by then the Lakers may be long out of the playoff hunt with nothing but lottery position to consider.



Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.