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Losses keep piling up for Lakers

Oklahoma City rolls to a 116-101 victory, L.A.'s sixth defeat in a row, and Jordan Hill will have season-ending surgery.

January 11, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

One loss was expected. Not the other.

The Lakers were flattened by Oklahoma City, 116-101, and, par for the season, got beat again Friday when Jordan Hill was advised by a doctor to undergo season-ending hip surgery.

Hill has loose fragments in his left hip, a possible labrum tear as well, and will seek a second opinion but still plans to go under the knife.

Just what the doctor couldn't order for a team already struggling with injuries and identity.

"He'll be back next year," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said of Hill, who didn't wow anybody with averages of 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds but typically brought a hustle component often lacked by the Lakers this season.

For example, Friday at Staples Center.

The Lakers gave up 64 points in the first half and were pylons at the feet of Kevin Durant while losing their sixth consecutive game.

Dwight Howard (shoulder) and Pau Gasol (concussion) didn't play, and you have to wonder how many more the Lakers will lose before they return.

Somewhere, Smush Parker and Kwame Brown are laughing.

The Lakers (15-21) haven't been this poor at this point since the 1993-94 season.

That team was really awful, going 11-25 through 36 games and failing to make the playoffs.

Durant had 42 points, 25 in the first half, as the Thunder won for the ninth time in 11 games against the Lakers, including a breezy 4-1 series in last season's playoffs.

Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists as the Thunder kept chugging along, playing with the same starting five for an 80th consecutive game. Oklahoma City's 28-8 record ties the Clippers for the NBA's best.

"They're just longer and faster and better," D'Antoni said.

The Lakers kept crawling along in front of a completely moribund crowd.

Fans even booed the free-taco promotion advertised on the scoreboard in the third quarter. No way the Lakers were going to win and hold Oklahoma City under 100. The score was 90-68 at the time.

Kobe Bryant had 28 points but didn't shoot well, making only eight of 23 attempts.

Metta World Peace also had a woeful shooting night, making five of 18, only one of nine from three-point range, and scoring 12 points. Steve Nash was surprisingly quiet with seven points and seven assists.

Bryant still thought the Lakers could turn around their season.

"I absolutely do," he said. "I'm just very frustrated and upset about what we're going through right now and how we're playing. We gave up [almost] 120 points. A lot of them were just layups. Too many easy looks."

On the other hand, Bryant understood people snickering at the thought of a Lakers rebound. Even Magic Johnson said on ESPN they wouldn't make the playoffs after watching their first half Friday.

"I'm sure he's not in the minority thinking that way," Bryant said.

The Lakers were so desperate that Earl Clark went from scoring 14 points all season (before Wednesday) to starting for the Lakers and guarding Durant.

The fourth-year forward got the nod from D'Antoni after Gasol was not medically cleared to play.

"'Earl-sanity,' baby," D'Antoni said before the game.

Not exactly. His 10 points and 10 rebounds were a lot less than the 22 and 13 he had in the Lakers' loss Wednesday to San Antonio.

Clark made only five of 12 shots Friday but his recent boost in play was partly why the Lakers weren't planning on signing another big man to compensate for the assumed loss of Hill.

A larger reason is their already bulging $100-million payroll, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. And that doesn't include $30 million in luxury taxes.

The Lakers have 14 players on their roster, one below the NBA maximum, but will go with what they've got for now, which isn't a lot.

"I don't have to look to know we're in a heap of ..." D'Antoni said before tipoff, his voice trailing off. "Not a good place. As long as mathematically it can be done and it's in our hands, then I'm good."

The Lakers remained five games behind Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Sure, it could happen mathematically.

It's what the franchise is reduced to right now, a 17th championship never seeming further away.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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