Steve Nash walked toward the trainer's room, opened the door and asked a question sprinkled with gallows humor.
"Is the coast clear in there?" he said dryly.
An hour before the Lakers tipped off against the Milwaukee Bucks, Nash wondered aloud about the latest injury/illness/epidemic to touch the Lakers, an apparent bout of stomach flu that prevented Wesley Johnson from playing Tuesday.
Somehow it got worse for them.
The Lakers sputtered and crashed in a 94-79 loss to the Bucks before an uninspired Staples Center crowd that booed as the final seconds ticked down.
BOX SCORE: Milwaukee Bucks 94, Lakers 79
The Bucks were an NBA-worst 6-24 before Tuesday but it was the Lakers (13-19) who lost a sixth consecutive game and started an inconceivably high 17th different lineup.
They were down to eight healthy players after Jordan Farmar left in the third quarter because his hamstring tightened up. He will consult with a doctor on Wednesday.
James Worthy, holder of three championship rings with the Lakers and a sharp analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet, had seen enough at halftime, the Lakers trailing by the sad score of 42-33.
"This is ugly. It's getting worse. And they're playing like this at home," he said on TV as the Lakers went to the locker room.
Pau Gasol played poorly after missing a total of three games because of bronchitis and a sinus infection. He took 23 shots, made only nine and had 25 points.
Farmar was scoreless on zero-for-five shooting when he left, thoroughly outplayed by Milwaukee point guard Brandon Knight (37 points).
The Lakers have lost consecutive games to Utah (10-24), Philadelphia (9-21) and now Milwaukee. This is officially rock bottom, no?
"We didn't do anything well. Yeah, we're down at the bottom," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said.
There was even a return of the "We want Phil!" chant in the fourth quarter.
Then there are the trade rumors.
The Lakers quickly downplayed an ESPN.com report that they were engaged in talks with Cleveland to acquire Andrew Bynum in a cost-cutting move that would send Gasol and his $19.3-million salary to the Cavaliers, potentially saving more than $20 million in payroll and luxury taxes.
As of now, the Lakers want more value for Gasol than a player with bad knees averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds.
But they would have to pay Bynum only $6 million of his $12.3-million salary if they acquired and then waived him before Jan.7. He has a non-guaranteed contract because of his recurring knee issues.
Gasol acknowledged being affected by the rumors.
"Unfortunately, it's hard not to see them," he said. "I can't really control what goes on upstairs and what the team wants to do and what direction they want to head.
"When these rumors come out, you just don't know. I didn't get any calls that it was true or that it wasn't true. You're kind of in limbo thinking that you might get a call saying that it is and I'm gone. I don't know."
Acquiring Bynum would officially signal the start of Tank Time for the Lakers. There were plenty of reasons to consider it Tuesday.
The first quarter was a mess, the Lakers falling behind 14-0 until Gasol's 14-footer with 5:08 left in the quarter.
It didn't get much better two hours later, the Lakers trailing by nine with 2:30 to play and giving up four consecutive offensive rebounds before Ersan Ilyasova scored on a layup.
"Happy New Year, Kobe!" a fan shouted into the fourth-quarter silence as Bryant watched from the end of the bench.
There was nothing happy for the Lakers on Tuesday. Not even close.