Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Kobe Bryant-led Lakers playing on Christmas day is an annual tradition. After today Bryant will have suited up on the hallowed holiday for a record 15th time.
Another part of this on-going tradition is the Lake Show finding coal in the stockings on Christmas morning. For three years running the Lakers have lost on Christmas day and Kobe’s career record during the holiday stands at 5-9.
For the Lakers, today’s clash with the New York Knicks not only represents an opportunity to give Laker fans something they haven’t seen in three years, it’s also a chance to show the hoops world that they’re back in the title talk.
Four straight wins plus the returns of both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have lifted the very dim prospects of competing with the NBA elite. But there is still much to prove. Of those four straight wins only one has come against a supposed top tier team. Even then beating Golden State took the best effort of the season and overtime.
The importance of beating the Knicks in a national game is not lost on the Lakers and the need to get a win on Christmas is at the top of Gasol’s holiday wish list.
"“Every Christmas, we make it a little tougher on ourselves. We need to win this game badly.”"
In each of those last three Christmas contests the Lakers have lost in pretty embarrassing fashion the worst of which was a blowout loss to Cleveland that turned ugly when fans in Staples flooded the floor with Christmas joy.
In order to avoid another holiday meltdown the Lakers will have to give a better effort than the one they did during the first meeting between these two teams. In NYC it was all Knicks from start to finish. Even though the Lakers made a run late it came when Carmelo Anthony was out of the game having sustained an ankle injury.
Finding a win under the tree would not only validate L.A.’s reversal of fortune it would also get this team back to .500. Not the kind of accomplishment any Laker team should ever be proud of at the end of December but none the less a necessary measure if this team is going to get back on track.