Mavericks visit Lakers in clash of struggling clubs (Dec 29, 2016)

LOS ANGELES — A downward spiral continues to plague the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers attempt to reverse course when they face the struggling Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Los Angeles (12-23) dropped five of its last six and 13 of 15 games in December, including Tuesday’s 102-100 loss at home to the Utah Jazz. A 3-pointer by Utah forward Joe Ingles and the Lakers’ inability to convert late possessions was the difference as the Jazz improved to 3-0 against Los Angeles this season.

“Obviously, it stings,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “The players are hurt that we lost, but the message afterward was we played the most aggressive, in my opinion, the most aggressive defensive game that we’ve had in a long time. We’re still going to make mistakes. That’s just part of learning.”

The lessons have become increasingly painful during the Lakers’ tailspin. After a surprising 10-10 start, the Lakers have had little to savor this month. They endured a recent 1-6 road trip with four of the losses coming in double digits.

The Lakers’ lone wins this month came against the undermanned Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Defense remains one of the Lakers’ weaknesses. They ranked 27th in points allowed at 110.3 and last in opponents’ field-goal shooting at 47.8 percent

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