- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- With a 98-96 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers' losing streak reached three games. Things don't get any easier with their upcoming schedule either as the Lakers host the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, a team that already beat them by eight points this season, and follow that up with eight of their next nine games on the road. L.A. has just a 1-6 record away from Staples Center.
"I don't care who it is right now, we need a win," Kobe Bryant said after the game. "We need a win, it doesn't matter who we're playing next."
Coming into Sunday's game, the Lakers' problems had mostly been relegated to the offensive end, as they ranked 21st in the league with a scoring average of just 92.2 points per game (they only broke the 100-point barrier once this season), last in 3-point percentage at 25.7 percent and 15th in the league in turnovers per game at 14.6 a night.
Against the Pacers, however, problems popped up on the defensive end.
"We came out and we played great defense in the first quarter and then the last three quarters we didn't play with a sense of urgency," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "It was almost like when we got up 12 or 13 in the first quarter, we thought Indiana would fold to a certain degree and we just kind of went through the motions. ... Tonight defensively we weren't there."
The Pacers scored 35 points in the second quarter and 28 in the third after being held to just 14 in the first quarter. L.A. allowed Indiana to shoot 10 for 18 (55.6 percent) on 3-pointers. The Lakers were also outrebounded 50-43.
"We've got defensive issues and offensive issues and we're not being efficient, so that kind of hurts," said Andrew Bynum. Bynum pointed to the Lakers' defense in the paint and stopping the pick-and-roll as the two key areas in which L.A. needs to improve.
Bryant called the Lakers' defense "extremely poor" on Sunday.
The Lakers have an off day Monday, which will be welcome considering they are tied with Chicago for having played the most games through the first portion of the schedule with 18 in the 29 days since the season opened up on Christmas.
If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would not qualify. Their 10-8 record puts them 10th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles starting small forward Matt Barnes expressed his displeasure with the record.
"For this team to be 10-8, it's unacceptable," Barnes said. "Right now we're just in a funk. ... We'll hit a streak, we'll hit a run, we'll be around at the end, but right now we're just in a bad place and just need to find a way to get out of it."
The Lakers only had one three-game losing streak through the first 217 games after acquiring Pau Gasol in 2008, but had four losing streaks of three games or more last season and another four-game losing streak in the playoffs when they were swept out of the second round by the Dallas Mavericks.
"We need to turn it around as soon as possible," Gasol said. "The next game is the next opportunity."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
18hMatt Walks, ESPN.com