The surreal state of the Lakers — they lose even when they win.
They beat the Orlando Magic, 103-94, Sunday at Staples Center and ended a four-game losing streak with a career-high 28 points from Jordan Hill.
But Pau Gasol couldn't finish the game, staying in the locker room at halftime after feeling dizzy and nauseated. He received three liters of IV solution, a sizable amount, and was to spend the night at a hospital for precautionary reasons.
Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni theorized it was an illness or influenza though admitted he did not know what caused Gasol's discomfort. A concussion was ruled out.
The Lakers also kissed away some ping-pong ball percentages Sunday. They were chasing, if you will, Orlando for the NBA's third-worst record, a task that became practically impossible.
The Lakers aren't trying to lose on purpose. Too many players are in the last years of their contract to let that happen. And the NBA would frown upon such behavior if true.
But the team with the third-worst record has a 15.6% chance at winning the No. 1 pick at the May 20 lottery. The fourth-worst team has an 11.9% chance and fifth-worst gets an 8.8% chance. The Lakers (23-46) fell further behind Orlando (19-52) and "vaulted" Boston and Utah (both 23-47).
They now own the NBA's sixth-worst record, good for only a 6.3% chance at the top pick.
A devastating victory Sunday? "We need games like this because you could feel people getting frustrated," D'Antoni said. "The enthusiasm was draining out a little bit. You've got to get some sugar back for something. They played hard, they got rewarded."
Their fans were ecstatic, able to chant "We want tacos!" for one of the few times in recent months.
The Lakers, though, are still approaching their worst record since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. It's something that would upset Gasol and Nick Young. They recently decided in an optimistic conversation that they didn't want to be part of such a team.
To which D'Antoni replied Sunday when asked by reporters, "Probably should have had it sooner."
Hill was happy just to A) make it through a game without being ejected and B) shed the embarrassment of missing the team photo last week. (A seething Kobe Bryant angrily waited 20 minutes that day before the team decided to snap the picture without Hill. Bryant, who glowered in the photo, muttered under his breath that he didn't like posing with teams that were so far under .500.)
Hill made nine of 15 shots and took 13 rebounds against the Magic. His production helped ease the loss of Gasol, who had only six points and two rebounds.
"They must have never seen me play," Hill said of the Magic. "Offensive rebounds, get the ball in the post — I can definitely go to work."
D'Antoni favors power forwards who can stretch the floor with their outside touch, not Hill's strong suit at all, leading to spotty stats for him most of the season.
"His system is a great system for guys that can shoot, the four man who likes to spread the floor," Hill said. "Of course I want to go out there and play, but anything can happen. I'm just going to stay ready."
There were other notes of interest Sunday.
It felt like a while since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was at a Lakers game, but there he was with A.C. Green, sitting in the second row across from Orlando's bench.
Also, Young scored 26 points and converted his fifth four-point play, increasing his Lakers single-season record for the statistical oddity.
The Lakers could feel better about one thing. They're not as bad as Orlando, which dropped to 4-34 on the road.
Small victories for the Lakers. Very small. State of their season, for sure.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun