LOS ANGELES -- Things have gotten so bad for the Los Angeles Lakers that they now cannot even beat the teams being accused of losing on purpose.
Cynics call it tanking, and whether the Philadelphia 76ers are doing it, with an eye toward the June draft, they showed up at Staples Center on Sunday night one of the NBA's worst teams.
Losers of nine of their past 10 games and 13 straight on the road, the 76ers seemed the perfect opponent for the struggling Lakers.
Turns out it was the other way around.
The Lakers watched as another player, Xavier Henry, limped toward the training room, and as another loss was tossed onto the heap they've accumulated.
They battled back from a double-digit deficit only to stop making shots in the final minutes, losing 111-104.
The Lakers lost for the fifth straight game two nights after coming up short against the last-place Jazz in Salt Lake City.
"We needed the Utah game," the Lakers' Chris Kaman said, "they're at the bottom of the West. We needed the game here tonight. We need the game on the 31st (against the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks). We just need those games."
Starting their 16th different lineup of the season, the Lakers opened a 12-2 lead on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter but quickly went cold, making 36.9 percent of their shots.
Nick Young led the Lakers with 26 points, but was 6 of 21 from the field and missed nine of his 11 3-point attempts, including one with 2:19 remaining that would have tied the game at 102. On the Lakers' next possession, he missed a fast-break layup.
Shawne Williams missed another tying 3 with 20 seconds left.
With Henry added to the list of injured Lakers, coach Mike D'Antoni's preparation involves as much hoping as planning.
"There's no secret formula or sauce," D'Antoni said. "We've got to get some guys healthy and stay fairly close."
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