The Los Angeles Lakers have a record of 45-9, have won 10 straight games, 16 of 17 and 33 of their last 36. But that's not enough to please some people, according to Coach Pat Riley.

"Do you know what someone said to me the other day?" he recalled recently. "That now we were winning too much, that we have to lose a few games or else we'll be too tired of winning when the playoffs come around and we won't want it as much" . . .

Conversely, the Golden State Warriors have hovered near the cellar of the Pacific Division all season. One reason is the continued absence of rebounder-supreme Larry Smith, who has been on the injured list four different times this season because of problems with his right thigh. Another problem has been the number of injuries to center Ralph Sampson. After the Washington Bullets' 110-105 win over the Warriors Monday, the former Virginia star said he has some torn cartilage in his right knee that may require surgery.

However, another failing is just pure incompetence, such as that displayed during a loss to Detroit last week. In that game, the Warriors played for more than a minute with only four men on the court. Then, after the gaffe was discovered, the team was assessed a technical foul. The error was surprising, given the number of players, trainers and assistant coaches that are on a team's bench. That was not the first time that snafu was made. The exact situation occurred three different times last season . Trading Tears

Making trades can be difficult when allegiances and attachments have formed between players and teams. Such was the case in the flurry of moves made by the Phoenix Suns last week. One deal brought Craig Hodges to the Suns from the Milwaukee Bucks. The guard had just returned home from a trip to the circus with his children and turned on the television when he received a call from Bucks Coach Del Harris. Before Harris could break the news to Hodges, though, his picture was flashed on the television screen under the word "Traded."

Guard Kevin Johnson went to Phoenix from Cleveland. The Cavaliers' first-round pick in last June's draft, the rookie had just completed work on a house he had built in the Cleveland area. The money for the home came from a loan provided by the Cavaliers.

One of the players Cleveland acquired from the Suns was forward Larry Nance. A mainstay with the team, Nance was drafted in 1981 upon the recommendation of John Wetzel, then a scout with the team. Wetzel, now the Suns coach, reportedly broke down and cried when he informed Nance of the trade.

Said Nance, "He's {Wetzel} like a brother to me." A Buck for Blair

One of the people most pleased with Bonnie Blair's gold- and bronze-medal winning performances at the recent Olympic Games was Milwaukee Bucks forward/center Jack Sikma. Sikma once sponsored Blair on a training trip to Europe; during the weekend of the NBA All-Star Game, the veteran attended the NBA Players Association meetings in Chicago, then went up to West Allis, Wis., to watch Blair compete in the indoor championships.

Sikma, a 7-footer who was moved over to the power forward position at the start of the season, still leads the league in free throw percentage, his mark of .925 slightly better than Larry Bird's .913. Surprisingly, Detroit center Bill Laimbeer is third at .907 and another pivotman, Philadelphia's Mike Gminski is fourth.

A center has never led the NBA in free throw shooting; their statistical province is usually field goal percentage. However, there's been an upheaval in that category as well this year. Of the top 10 marks in the league, only one belongs to a center -- Boston's Robert Parish, whose .579 mark is second to teammate Kevin McHale's .616.

In third place is Detroit forward Rick Mahorn, who's having a career-best season with the Pistons. Last week he scored a career-high 34 points, one of a number of impressive performances by former or would-be Bullets. Guard Michael Adams has hit eight three-point field goals in the Denver Nuggets last two games to become the team's all-time single season recordholder for the long distance shot.

Denver teammate Lafayette Lever, a starting guard in last month's all-star game who might have come to Washington in a trade last summer, recorded yet another triple-double against Philadelphia and Jay Vincent returned to action after a recent groin injury with an 18-point effort. Vincent is the highest scoring reserve in the league.