Through the acrobatic shots and colorful celebrations, Nick Young’s high-volume shooting still made the Lakers occasionally cringe. Sometimes it came at the expense of a balanced offense. But in this case, Young’s prolific scoring also may have cost the Lakers a top draft pick. The Lakers’ 119-104 victory Monday over the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena snapped a season-high seven-game winning streak, with Young’s 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting playing a large part in injection energy into an initially lifeless game. But the Lakers (26-56) stayed ahead of the Utah Jazz (24-56) with the sixth-worst NBA record, giving them a 6.3 percent to secure the top pick in the draft lottery on May 20. A loss would have secured a tie for the fourth-worst NBA record, giving them an 11.9 percent chance for the first draft selection if they stay tied with Boston and win a coin flip. Not that the Lakers are stewing over percentage points. “If we would’ve lost tonght, we would’ve been in last place in the West,” said Young, who fell short of his career-high 43 points set with Washington against Sacramento on Jan. 11, 2011. “We would’ve had more lottery balls. But I wasn’t thinking about it.” Neither was Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who struggled grasping the details surrounding the implications behind the Lakers’ win. He then quipped the Lakers would have won anyway in their season finale Wednesday in San Antonio, although it boasts the Western Conference’s best record. “What are you going to tell a guy, ‘Don’t play hard?’ ” D’Antoni said. “That’s not right. They played hard.” The Lakers have up to 12 of their 15 players who will enter free agency in July, giving these meaningless games their last auditions for a contract. Jordan Hill continued a string of seven consecutive double-digit performances, although his 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting surprisingly came on a series of mid-range jumpers instead of putbacks. Jodie Meeks’ 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting included six of the team’s last eight points to close out the first half with a 57-51 lead following a 16-2 run. And Young scored in a variety of ways, including a 6-of-11 clip from three-point range, step-back jumpers and drives to the basket.
Lakers’ 119-104 win over Utah snaps seven-game losing streak
L.A. Daily News | Apr 15