LOS ANGELES — Mathematically, the Los Angeles Lakers remain in contention for a spot in the NBA playoffs.
Realistically, those chances are dead after Monday night.
The Lakers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers 113-105 and fell further behind their crosstown rival and the San Antonio Spurs in pursuit of the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference.
The Lakers (30-34) lost for the fifth time in six games. They led 82-79 with 2:50 left in the third quarter before the Clippers (37-29) went on a 10-0 run and took control of the game.
“They just had more energy at the end,” Lakers star LeBron James said about the deciding factor of the game.
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The Clippers (37-29), seventh in the Western Conference standings, now have a six-game lead over the Lakers and a 3½-game lead over the Sacramento Kings. The Spurs, currently in the eighth spot, are 5½ games ahead of the Lakers. Both the Kings (32-31) and Spurs (36-29) won on Monday.
James, facing the prospect of missing the postseason for the first time since his second year in the NBA, scored a team-high 27 points in the Lakers’ loss at Staples Center.
The experience of missing the postseason will be far more familiar to Lakers fans, whose team has not made the playoffs since 2013. This year’s disappointment will be especially painful with James expected to have helped end the team’s postseason drought during his first year with the team.