Infamous milestones continue to pile up in a horrid season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and another loss Friday would add their first losing season in nine years to the list.
The Denver Nuggets have also struggled lately, but could be primed to take advantage of the visiting Lakers’ woeful defense on Friday night.
Los Angeles (21-41) won’t finish with the worst record in franchise history, with that distinction belonging to the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers that finished 19-53. However, they’ll have to play .500 or better the final 20 games to avoid matching the worst season since moving to Los Angeles. The 1974-75 Lakers were 30-52.
Barring an improbable run and plenty of help, the conference-worst Lakers will also miss the playoffs for just the sixth time in franchise history.
Adding to the embarrassment was a 142-94 loss to the Clippers on Thursday – the most lopsided defeat in club history. They let the Clippers shoot 55.3 percent from the field, and opponents are averaging 116.9 points on 48.5 percent shooting during a 3-7 stretch.
"We got beat by 48. It’s not fun," said Jodie Meeks, who was held to seven points after averaging 19.8 on 65.2 percent shooting over his previous four contests. "Regardless of whether it’s a record-breaking performance or not, it is still frustrating. It’s not fun getting blown out at any level, but especially on national TV and in front of the world. We have to have more pride than that. I do not think the Clippers are 48 points better than us."
The Lakers were also outrebounded for the 11th straight game – giving up a 64-33 advantage on the boards Thursday – and are averaging a minus-12.6 margin over that span.
The next loss will clinch the franchise’s first losing season since a 34-48 mark in 2004-05.
Denver (26-34) has struggled as well but scored 41 first-quarter points Wednesday for a 115-110 home win over Dallas – just its second win in 13 games. The Nuggets were 11 of 24 from 3-point range after shooting 29.6 percent from deep over their previous four contests.
Wilson Chandler scored 21 to lead five players with at least 16 points, while Ty Lawson had 20 in his second game back after sitting out nine with a fractured rib. He had another injury-related scare Wednesday, temporarily leaving the game after jamming his heel, but should be able to play Friday.
"It feels good to be back in a positive light, to get back on the winning track," said Lawson, who scored 31 in Monday’s loss to Minnesota. "But we can’t celebrate too much. We’ve got the L.A. Lakers on Friday and we just can’t have any letdowns.”
Lawson is averaging 19.8 points and 10.2 assists over his last five matchups with the Lakers.
The Nuggets won both earlier meetings this season and shot 53.5 percent in a 137-115 blowout in Los Angeles on Jan. 5, their fifth straight victory in the series.
Pau Gasol is averaging 23.5 points on 56.7 percent shooting over his last four games and scored 25 in each of this season’s first two matchups with Denver.