Times are so tough for the Lakers, their healthy players so few and far between, that a former wide receiver has played point guard at some of their practices.
J.J. Outlaw has scrimmaged in spurts with the team over the last week or so. He's part of the Lakers' player-personnel staff and played for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2007 preseason.
Of course, he injured his thumb while scrimmaging. Apparently jammed it while going for a loose ball.
So really, nobody is safe playing point guard for the Lakers.
"It's been bothering me for days," Outlaw said while looking at his thumb, trying to laugh at all the injury madness.
If there's any consolation for the Lakers, losers of nine of 10, they play someone Friday who's also short-handed. The Clippers will be without Chris Paul, making the "Battle of L.A." more like a mild encounter of backcourt backups, though J.J. Redick might return for the Clippers after a six-week injury absence.
This game would be something to sigh at, if not for the Lakers scoring their biggest victory of the season against the Clippers back in October. It was opening night, all you need to know about the Lakers' season so far.
"It's been a tough road the last 10 to 15 games," said Lakers center Chris Kaman, who could tack on a few more and still be accurate.
Second-year guard Kendall Marshall has already guaranteed a Lakers victory to Clippers swingman Reggie Bullock, a former teammate at North Carolina.
But even Marshall admits he doesn't know what to expect at the Clippers' designated home game.
"I see it as a [Lakers] home game, to be honest with you," Marshall said. "I don't really understand the rivalry yet."
Here's a start — after years of futility and embarrassment, the Clippers' franchise finally swept the Lakers last season for the first time since 1974-75. They were the Buffalo Braves back then.
The Lakers (14-22) will be decisive underdogs Friday against the Clippers (25-13), another reason Coach Mike D'Antoni continued to use humor to deflect from an otherwise morbid season.
With Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant possibly back by the end of the month, did D'Antoni see a light at the end of the tunnel?
"There is a light. It could be a train coming," he said Thursday. "It's just the way it is."
But doesn't there seem to be a certain time each game where the Lakers' defense lapses?
"That would be the jump ball. The national anthem? I figured out the national anthem is really jinxing us," D'Antoni said. "Whenever they play it, we don't play well."
Kaman on periphery
Kaman wasn't sure why he continued to be on the outside (at best) of D'Antoni's rotation.
"I honestly can't answer that question for you without telling you a lie. I really have no clue why. I'd just be making something up," Kaman said. "I haven't played in six games and then all of a sudden I play [Wednesday].
"I really have no rhyme or reason for it. When it's my turn, it's my turn and when it's not, I just sit and be positive and try to be professional about it."
D'Antoni said the team had a logjam with big men. Kaman logged some second-half minutes in the Lakers' 113-99 loss Wednesday in Houston, but it was mainly because Ryan Kelly was in foul trouble and Robert Sacre was ineffective on offense.
Kaman, 31, signed a one-year, $3.2-million contract with the Lakers last summer.
Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan; @EricPincus
Pincus is a Times correspondent.