- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Even though the Los Angeles Lakers became the first team in the league to be eliminated from playoff contention last week, coach Mike D'Antoni's message hasn't changed for the rest of the way.
"We've been talking about it the whole time, just trying to be better, trying to play better and making sure we don't jump ship," D'Antoni said before the team practiced Monday. "Everybody stay and just make as good of a showing as we can and compete. Guys got their futures to work for and we're going to try to help them."
After starting 10-9, the Lakers have gone 12-35, with four of their last seven losses coming by 20 points or more.
With less than a month until the Lakers close out the season on April 16, the team already has to ward off thoughts about the summertime.
"We don't want to think about the finish line," Pau Gasol said. "We want to think about what can we do better during this stretch of games and how we can be more effective and have better results. So let's see if we can stay locked in, because the season's not over. You got to still go out there, play, compete and be a team."
Eleven of the final 16 games are against teams with above-.500 records as the Lakers continue to deal with injuries.
Nick Young (left knee) and Jordan Hill (right knee) returned to practice Monday and are hopeful for Friday's game against the Washington Wizards, Jordan Farmar, however, suffered a right groin strain Monday and will see Dr. Luga Podesta to determine the extent of the injury.
"We're going to try to get better," D'Antoni said. "We're going to try to get better individually and as a team and just make sure our last 16 games are competitive and go out and do the best we can."
2dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann