Mike D'Antoni

Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni shouts during a loss to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 11. Firing D'Antoniin the middle of the season would not help the team. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / February 11, 2014)

Some Lakers fans were undoubtedly hoping General Manager Mitch Kupchak would pull a Pat Haden and meet his embattled coach on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport late Thursday night before he could board the team plane and coach another game.

This is what happens when you preside over the WORST LOSS IN LAKERS HISTORY and the lowest winning percentage for the team since it moved to L.A. in 1960.

Keeping Mike D'Antoni isn't the dumbest move the Lakers could make, though.

Firing him would be. At least right now.

There is no point in installing an interim coach in a season that has become such an epic fail that now the more losses, the better for draft lottery purposes. So what if Kurt Rambis or Johnny Davis could restore some vigor and help the team net five more victories; they would come at the expense of precious pingpong balls.

There is also no point in starting to build a winning culture when the players who will the lead the turnaround haven't even arrived.

The unfortunate truth is that the Lakers are probably locked into at least one more awful season and might as well drag D'Antoni along for the ride, especially because he's under contract and will get paid either way. With LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony looking like increasingly unrealistic options, the Lakers probably will preserve their maximum salary slot for the summer of 2015, when Kevin Love becomes available.

No matter whom the Lakers draft this summer, that player is probably not going to make them playoff contenders next season, even alongside a healthy Kobe Bryant. Only one of the last 11 No. 1 picks (Andrea Bargnani with the Toronto Raptors in 2006-07) has helped his team compile a winning record in his rookie season.

This is not to say that D'Antoni is the long-term answer for the Lakers. He doesn't communicate properly with players, doesn't embrace defense and doesn't do enough to shake his team out of soul-sucking losses like its 48-point debacle against the Clippers on Thursday.

But right now, he's the perfect coach for a bad team and there's no reason to jettison him until the Lakers are ready to take flight.

Surprise production

Scoring 40 points or more in the NBA is no longer the exclusive domain of the league's top players.

This season, it's being done by guys who still need to show ID just to get into their home arenas.

Phoenix's Gerald Green became the latest unknown to produce a career game when he scored 41 points Thursday against Oklahoma City, joining Toronto's Terrence Ross (51 points against the Clippers) and Brooklyn's Marcus Thornton (42 points against Indiana when Thornton still played for the Sacramento Kings).

Ross is averaging only 10.6 points, Thornton often comes off the bench and Green acknowledged he isn't exactly a household name.

"I'm still trying to prove myself," Green said after a performance that included a 25-point third quarter. "I haven't done anything in this league."

He has now.