LOS ANGELES--The Los Angeles Lakers have been incredibly kind and generous lately, allowing Golden State and Phoenix to beat them by a combined 46 points.
Their giving usually doesn't end at this time of year.
The Lakers have another Christmas date, another day to smile for the ABC cameras and, more likely than not, lose a game.
Since acquiring Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are 6-9 on Dec. 25, including 0-4 against Wednesday's opponent, Miami.
Bryant won't play because of a fractured left knee, but at least his record of 383 career Christmas points will remain intact another year ... unless Dwyane Wade scores 180 on Wednesday or LeBron James scores 188, an unlikely outcome despite the way the Lakers have defended lately.
The Lakers have won five championships since 2000 and appeared in another two NBA Finals, but success in June hasn't translated to Christmas miracles.
Pau Gasol has played in five of these holiday games, losing three times.
"It kind of messes up your Christmas, but last year we got a win against New York," he said. "Let's see if this year under all the circumstances that we have going on if we can put together a great effort against one of the best teams in the league."
Jerry West scored 47 points 50 years ago on Christmas to lead the Lakers to a 134-126 victory over New York. If the 75-year-old Hall of Famer could play point guard, the Lakers might bring him in for a tryout.
There was actually some positive injury news Tuesday for the Lakers, who were down to their fifth-string point guard (Xavier Henry) after Bryant was lost for six weeks.
Jordan Farmar was given medical clearance to resume playing after missing 10 games because of a torn left hamstring. He took part in the team's brief practice Tuesday and mentioned one goal against Miami.
"Just trying to get everybody back to what they're comfortable doing," said Farmar, averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists this season.
He'll start, alongside Jodie Meeks. The frontcourt will be Gasol, Shawne Williams and Wesley Johnson.
The day before Christmas didn't pass without an apology from Coach Mike D'Antoni, who said Monday that Lakers fans should "find another team to root for" if they were discouraged by a 117-90 loss at Phoenix.
He was contrite, though, on Tuesday.
"We have a lot of injuries. We're in a tough state right now so we need everybody pulling with us," he said. "It came out wrong because I was agitated, but I apologize. We need everybody behind these guys. They're going to play as hard as they can play."
But back to Christmas.
Phil Jackson almost annually criticized the NBA's decision to hold these games, once saying "Christian holidays don't mean anything to them anymore."
Some Lakers players were excited about playing in a Christmas game despite enduring a rough two-game trip that started with a 102-83 loss Saturday to Golden State.
"We're all competitive. We all want to win," said Nick Young, who has never played in this game in his seven-year career. "Hopefully, it happens on Christmas and Santa's going to give us a good present."
The Lakers (13-15) will wear a shimmery silver-and-white uniform that includes short sleeves instead of the traditional tank top. It drew quizzical looks and double takes when photos of it were revealed last month.
But, hey, it's the holiday season.
"I'm ready for my new uniform," Young said. "I've got some nice shoes to go with it."
Miami (21-6) has been on cruise control as one of only three teams with winning records in the ridiculously uncompetitive Eastern Conference. James has again asserted himself as an MVP candidate and Wade has been a good second option (19.9 points, 4.9 assists a game) when his knees don't bother him.
This will be Bryant's first missed Christmas game. There's really not much the Lakers can do except play without him.
"I think we're used to it by now," Gasol said. "He's played only six games. We're just going to have to put a really good effort together to have a chance to win that game."
(c)2013 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services