Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers Coming to Terms with Loser Identity

ORLANDO, Fla. — It sunk in for Pau Gasol on Friday night.

Even if he steps it up, and he has indeed looked more like his old championship self lately, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have enough to do anything.

“When you lose against the worst teams in the league, you have to ask yourself why—and what does that make you?” Gasol said glumly after the loss to the Orlando Magic.

The Magic were 11-32. The Magic were 1-14 without injured center Nik Vucevic. The Magic were 1-12 in the past 13 games.

(The Lakers had already lost to almost all of the other dregs: the New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers.)

This game between the two teams Dwight Howard left behind was decided by who the Magic got in the four-team trade of Howard to the Lakers: Even with rising star Vucevic concussed, there was Arron Afflalo dominating the decisive third quarter with 12 points, three assists and one turnover.

Afflalo has had a fantastic season as Orlando’s main man, and Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said before the game it’s time for the next growth stage for Afflalo since opponents are locking in on him and double-teaming him. He was up to the challenge against the Lakers, although Gasol wasn’t about to give anyone too much credit for shredding his team’s defense.

“Now every team in the league knows the Lakers are not very good defensively,” Gasol said. “To say the least.”

None of the players the Lakers got in the monster trade is on the team anymore: Howard spurned the Lakers to jump to the Houston Rockets in free agency. Earl Clark left for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Duhon was so undesirable the Lakers cut him and are eating part of his salary.

The Lakers, to be fair, didn’t give up much (Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts,...

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