Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer knocks the ball from Lakers guard Kobe… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Ho, ho, no.
The Lakers are playing again on Christmas Day, a tradition that usually pleases only their opponents.
The Lakers have lost three consecutive times on Dec. 25, making Kobe Bryant’s career Christmas record an anything-but-jolly 5-9.
They get another chance at holiday redemption against New York and actually have some December momentum on their side, as winners of four consecutive games.
The team that can take nothing for granted certainly can’t do it Tuesday at Staples Center.
“Every Christmas, we make it a little tougher on ourselves,” Pau Gasol said after practice Monday. “We need to win this game badly.”
They’ve been pretty bad in the past.
They led by six after Bryant’s fadeaway with 54.6 seconds left but somehow lost to Chicago last year, 88-87.
They got thumped by Miami the year before that, 96-80, and embarrassed by Cleveland before that, 102-87, each time at Staples Center.
The Lakers went to the NBA Finals seven times and won five titles since 2000, but the results hadn’t translated to Christmas magic.
Maybe it’s karma. Phil Jackson often picked on the league’s decision to hold Christmas games.
“It’s like Christian holidays don’t mean anything to them anymore,” the former Lakers coach once said. “We just go out and play and entertain the TV. It’s really weird.”
Like it or not, the Lakers (13-14) are making a 14th consecutive appearance on Christmas.
Metta World Peace said his children hated that their father worked on the holiday. But in a league where the average salary is $5.3 million, World Peace understood it. Sort of.
“It’s great for the fans. They love the Christmas Day games,” he said. “The NBA recognized that. I’m sure they’re big moneymakers — commercials and all that stuff. It’s necessary for everybody because the people love it.”
So what can Bryant do, other than improve his surprisingly drab Dec. 25 record? The league’s highest-paid player shrugged off the concept of playing so often on this day.
“Even before I came to the league I played on Christmas Day anyway. I went to the playground and played ball anyway, so it’s no different,” he said.
Perhaps the newest addition to the Lakers said it best.
“I can see where it’s tough sometimes, but you adjust,” Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We have a great life. To quibble, ‘Aw, I’ve got to get up on [Christmas].’ Come on. I can’t quibble with that.”
Bryant has led the team in scoring 20 times this season, including 11 consecutive games.
Gasol led the team once (in the opener), Dwight Howard four times and World Peace and Antawn Jamison once each.
Maybe the return of Steve Nash will change that.
“Everybody feels like they have a shot at scoring because the ball will find the guy that’s open,” D’Antoni said.
On the other hand, Bryant took 41 shots in the Lakers’ 118-115 overtime victory Saturday over Golden State. Fine with D’Antoni?
“If he’s open 41 times, then I want him shooting 41 times,” D’Antoni said. “But I think everybody else ... felt like they got their shots.”