Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16), of Spain, drives against Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) defending during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Los Angeles.
It was a joyous occasion, but it wasn’t much of a party and far from festive inside Staples Center on New Years Eve.
Lakers fans entered the arena excited to see Pau Gasol, who was back in the starting lineup after missing the last two games. It was also a celebration of "Hollywood Nights" — the team’s themed campaign for wearing their alternate black uniforms.
The Lakers donned the black unis for the second time this season, but the first time at home.
"Hollywood Nights," however, quickly turned into a "Brandon" Night. As in Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight. The third year pro out of Kentucky scored a career-high 37 points in the Bucks’ 94-79 win, handing the Lakers their sixth straight loss to end 2013.
Watching Bryant and Nash walk out in street clothes is a reminder of where LAL are. "There's a cloud over us," said D'Antoni.
After losing to Miami on Christmas, there was hope that the schedule would provide some relief and get the Lakers off the schneid with a trip to Utah followed by visits from Philadelphia and Milwaukee — all bottom dwellers in their respective divisions.
No such luck.
Could this be rock bottom?
"I hope," Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said.
D'Antoni says guys are "pressing" team is a little "discouraged"
There isn’t much room for the Lakers to go downward. They’re just two games ahead of last place Sacramento in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Western Conference — five and a half games out of a playoff spot.
In the locker room is a team that is "demoralized." And injured.
In addition to Bryant, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson did not dress. Although both Chris Kaman and D’Antoni acknowledged the center could have played on Tuesday night, he didn’t with an ankle injury.
We hopefully hit rock bottom so we’ll attack it. We’ll try to get back on the horse.
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni
Knight scored 18 in the third quarter for the Bucks on Tuesday night, but the Lakers’ issues came well before that.
With Kobe Bryant left shaking his head in street clothes at the end of the Lakers bench, the Lakers were held scoreless until the 5:09 mark of the opening frame. Milwaukee opened the game on a 14-0 run before the Lakers finally got on the scoreboard. The team clad in black also missed their first 11 field goals.
They were just 5-for-21 in the first quarter and trailed 23-12 after the opening frame. The Bucks led by as much as 17 in the first quarter and 22 in the game.
"We are struggling," D’Antoni said. "We just didn’t play well or do anything well.
"(2014) might be better. We hopefully hit rock bottom so we’ll attack it. We’ll try to get back on the horse."