LOS ANGELES -- Two players logging big minutes saw their best performances this season in the Development League. The most trusted of the rest of the lot was coughing up phlegm and turnovers. Perhaps a 94-79 loss to the worst team in the NBA was perfectly in line with the Lakers' trajectory.
The worst five-day stretch in memory continued Tuesday. A loss to the Utah Jazz stung. Getting nipped by the Philadelphia 76ers burned.
But after going down to the now seven-win Milwaukee Bucks what else is there to say about the Lakers?
Happy New Year?
Since being .500 one game after Kobe Bryant went down with a broken bone in his left knee, the Lakers (13-19) have lost six straight games, the last three to the teams with the worst records in the NBA.
Are those teams really better than the Lakers, who entered the season with playoff aspirations?
"They shouldn't be, but they played better than we did," Coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Asked if he could have seen the potentially therapeutic stretch going this way, D'Antoni said, "No, no, no, no. Nope."
The day started with a report that the Lakers might trade Pau Gasol and ended with the wheezing center the only positive on the floor. Battling an upper respiratory infection, Gasol finished with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting. Nick Young also scored 25 points.
However, Gasol's three first-half turnovers were among the culprits in a lousy start that saw the Lakers miss their first 11 shots, fall behind, 17-2, and score a season-low 33 points in the first half.
"Around New Year's," guard Jodie Meeks said, "you want to have some good luck, but it seemed like they got all the good luck."
A near-comical parade of players to the trainer's room has left the Lakers relying on players such as Ryan Kelly and Kendall Marshall, a couple of D-League call-ups. But the wave of illness and injury continued with Wesley Johnson. The Lakers best perimeter defender did not play because of a gastrointestinal illness.
The Lakers could not contain Bucks guard Brandon Knight, who scored a career-high 37 points, including 18 in the third quarter.
The Lakers run of bad luck has meant more time for every remaining Laker, but especially Kelly. The second-round draft pick has gone from D-League assignee to first-quarter sub.
"It's a long season," Kelly said. "You never know what's going to happen, and things tend to happen like that for guys at the end of the bench if they're willing to work hard."
Johnson's absence Tuesday meant Kelly, who generally plays power forward in D'Antoni system, spent time at small forward.
"You never want to wish injury on anybody," he said. "That's not something you want. But I'm certainly grateful for the opportunity and want to take advantage of it."
He finished with six points on two 3-pointers.
Kelly has emerged as a D'Antoni favorite, at times earning minutes ahead of Chris Kaman and Shawne Williams.
"He's stronger than what he looks," D'Antoni said Sunday. "He's a little more athletic than what he looks. ... I think with time he'll be fine."
Jordan Farmar left the game with 6:33 left in the third quarter because of tightness in his left hamstring, which he tore Dec. 1. The former UCLA point guard missed 10 games with the injury, and said before the game that he was struggling with both tightness in the muscle and finding his rhythm.
Farmar will undergo another ultrasound Wednesday to determine whether he reinjured the hamstring.
No break is a break
D'Antoni wasn't ready to call an injury to one of his best playmakers good news, but did acknowledge that it was a relief Xavier Henry's strained knee is only expected to keep him out a week or two.
Every other Lakers point guard and fill-in at the position has been out longer.
The official diagnosis on Henry, which came Monday afternoon, was that he would miss 7-10 days after planting awkwardly in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
"It's early for Henry," D'Antoni said. "He's still got to get well. Yeah, it is good news if he can get back in 7-10 days. If that's the case then great."
The Lakers are painfully aware of the curse-like rash of injuries that have struck their point guards ... to a point that players have asked not to be called point guards.
"I did tell the guys that whoever was thinking about bringing the ball across halfcourt might not want to do that," D'Antoni said. "Throw it to the next guy."
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