LOS ANGELES — For much of this season, the story of the young Lakers was that they were never blown out, let alone humiliated.
But in the six games they have played without rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, opponents have chipped away at that reputation. The Lonzo-less Lakers have lost games by 18, 15, 17 and, after a 133-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, a season-worst 37 points.
It was the Lakers’ eighth straight loss. And with the deficit in this one growing to as many as 39 points, fans could cast their eyes wearily toward the future and to a courtside seat, where that hope was represented in a gold jersey with purple stitching.
Shortly after tip-off, Sean Jackson walked onto the floor wearing a customized Lakers No. 13 jersey with Paul George’s name stitched on the back.
The long-time season ticket holder plopped down in his usual chairs, which on Wednesday he said was “just coincidentally” two chairs over from George’s agent, Aaron Mintz and also next to George’s parents, Paul and Paulette.
Mintz was the agent with whom Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was found to have had communication about George that earned the franchise a $500,000 fine in August. After chatting briefly with Jackson, Mintz, who also represents Lakers forward Julius Randle, popped up and found his way over to an open seat next to Pelinka.
The agent, Jackson said, “loved” the George jersey.
“He cracked up,” he added. “It was funny.”
George, who asked Indiana to trade him to the Lakers last summer before landing in OKC in late June, scored 24 points to lead the Thunder. His night included a 13-point outburst in the second quarter as the visitors outscored the Lakers 37-18 in the period and took a 63-44 lead at halftime.
But Oklahoma City also got 20-point performances from three other starters, with Russell Westbrook (20 points, 12 assists), Carmelo Anthony (21 points) and Terrence Ferguson (24 points, 12 in the fourth quarter) all taking their turns.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Brook Lopez came off the bench in his first game since Dec. 18, when he suffered an ankle sprain, and finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.
The Thunder’s lead grew to as many as 39 before a late putback dunk from Alex Caruso, making Jackson’s courtside recruitment of George feel all the more urgent.
Jackson, the son of footwear magnate Steven Jackson, said he made the jersey last season but ended up…