It's not merely the score.
Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers losing 142-94 is the biggest margin of defeat this once-great franchise has ever seen. The previous franchise worst was a 46-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers back in 1995. But they didn't share a city with the Blazers. They didn't share a building. They didn't spend decades making the other team feel like an unwanted houseguest in Los Angeles.
The Lakers didn't merely lose by 48 points Thursday night; they lost by 48 points to the Los Angeles Clippers. It's no secret the Clippers are the better team. That has been well-established for the second successive season. It's the fact that the Lakers simply can't do anything about it, and there isn't an excuse for what's going on out there other than the team sucks. It's the only explanation offered up.
As great as he has been in his career, a healthy Kobe Bryant wouldn't change the fortunes of this Lakers team. They've hit rock bottom and are the worst incarnation of this franchise we've ever seen. They would have to go 9-12 the rest of the season in order to tie the worst record in Lakers history since they moved to Los Angeles. When you're rolling out Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks, and Robert Sacre in your rotation, you have no hope of going 9-12 for any stretch of the season.
A 48-point loss on national television to the Clippers, no matter what season it is, isn't supposed to happen to Laker Nation. Nobody in the building is coming to see you; they're coming to see Blake Griffin and Chris Paul -- the new kings of Los Angeles basketball -- put on a show. It was the Clippers that were able to figure out how to bring a star to the organization and better themselves. They didn't lose that star in free agency next year. They went out and got the coach they needed to take the next step.
The Clippers essentially became the Lakers for at least a two-year stretch, while the Lakers hope nobody pays attention to the man behind the curtain. In the most important off-season the Lakers have had since they convinced Shaquille O'Neal to move to LA, the Lakers' brass didn't have the prestige to keep their superstar free agent. Jim Buss couldn't be his father and Mitch Kupchak wasn't exactly Jerry West out there.
The Lakers failed and in turn set themselves up for an embarrassing year of being in basketball purgatory. The only hope for the Lakers is that they're bad enough and lucky enough to win the lottery, cashing in on a loaded draft class and hoping the guy they get is the best one for a decade or more. They have to hope Bryant can return to form and be one of the biggest difference-makers in the NBA at the age of 36. They have to hope they magically put together a competitive enough roster to lure a big name free agent or two in the next couple of off-seasons, after failing in front of the world to retain Dwight Howard.
This is the Lakers' current existence. They've had a Freaky Friday situation with the Clippers. They're the laughing stock now. They're the team that has to hope for the best. This isn't what the Lakers are supposed to be. They're supposed to impose their will on the NBA, not pray things work out.
This was more than a franchise record defeat Thursday night. It was more than score. It was a wakeup call that the nightmare is just beginning.