It’s unhappy holidays again for Lakers in blowout loss to Heat, and Kobe Bryant is angry


If the Lakers were looking for a pick-me-up, it didn’t happen. Not even close.

If they hoped for a momentum-turner in a season mostly devoid of them, there was only bitter disappointment.

The two-time defending champions had only themselves to blame after a thorough thrashing Saturday by the Miami Heat in front of a hushed Staples Center crowd.


The Lakers were a Christmas Day mess, failing to hit shots and serving as mere speed bumps under LeBron James and, curiously, Chris Bosh, the least feared of the Big Three but a monster in Miami’s 96-80 victory.

A lot of people paid a lot of money for tickets, with face value as high as $900 for non-courtside seats, but Lakers fans streamed toward the exits with 2:20 to play, the home team down 19 on the way to another disconcerting loss.

The Lakers (21-9) are an unimpressive 2-4 against teams with winning records and a startling 41/2 games behind San Antonio in the Western Conference. It won’t get any easier with their next two games in San Antonio and New Orleans on back-to-back nights.

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol missed all 11 of their first-quarter shots and never seemed to recover, dragging down the hopes of their team.

Bryant wasn’t merry at all, holiday or otherwise.

“This is serious stuff,” he said after scoring 17 quiet points on six-for-16 shooting. “You don’t just have two rings and say we’re satisfied with what we’ve got and let it slide. I’m not rolling with that.”

He wasn’t finished, continuing to glower as he fielded reporters’ questions for the first time in six days, his media boycott officially ending.

“I think these games mean more to our opponent than they do us,” he said. “I think we need to get that straight. I think we need to play with more focus and put more importance on these games. I don’t like it.”

As the queries continued, and minor expletives began being dropped into his lexicon, Bryant scoffed when asked whether he was concerned about the Lakers’ record against winning records.

“What about [my demeanor at] this press conference makes you think I’m not concerned?” he said, later adding, “We could be playing Minnesota — yeah, I said it — and I’d still be concerned.”

He also has had enough of Christmas games, specifically his teammates’ effort in them.

“I don’t think we’re mean enough to show up on Christmas Day and play,” he said. “They should just take us off this day.”

Will his teammates improve their effort?

“I’ll beat it in their head until it gets through,” he said. It didn’t seem like he was joking.

Miami (23-9) had plenty to do with the Lakers’ troubles. James had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Bosh had 24 points and 13 rebounds, pushing the Heat to a strong start and 47-38 halftime lead.

When James found Erick Dampier for a short fourth-quarter jumper, the Heat forward raised his arms and smiled briefly. He knew the game was over, the Heat ahead by 19. There were still more than four minutes left.

Had there been free foam fingers given out to fans, they probably would have been tossed onto the court, as happened in season’s Christmas debacle against Cleveland.

You could almost sense the pain in Magic Johnson’s voice as he questioned the Lakers’ passion, particularly on the grand stage of a holiday game against a top-notch team.

“That was embarrassing,” Johnson said on ABC. “It really was.”

Bryant and Johnson weren’t alone in their criticism. The Lakers’ arrogance has caught up to them, to paraphrase Lamar Odom.

“Part of our problem is we’re cocky,” he said. “We feel like we shouldn’t lose, can’t lose. That’s been our problem, I think, this season. That’s the way we came in to start training camp. You win two championships in a row, success can do that to people in basketball, just as in life.”

The Lakers were lifeless almost from the start of Saturday’s game. Gasol didn’t score until the 5:42 mark in the second quarter but followed it up with an air-balled seven-footer on the next trip down court, indicative of the Lakers’ struggles throughout the game.

Gasol finished with 17 points on eight-for-17 shooting and Bryant was flat throughout the game, his score by quarter a soft 0-8-5-4.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson didn’t seem to know what to expect coming into the game after seeing little reaction from a humiliating 98-79 loss Tuesday against Milwaukee.

“I sensed anger in Kobe, obviously, but I didn’t sense a lot of anger in our team,” Jackson said beforehand. “I didn’t sense that kind of anger that rises in a team when they know that they really disappointed themselves.”

The Lakers didn’t get much help Saturday from the reserves, either. Steve Blake missed all five of his shots. Matt Barnes had two points in almost 16 minutes. Shannon Brown made three of nine shots.

In the end, Miami beat the Lakers at Staples Center for the first time since Dec. 25, 2004, when Shaquille O’Neal had 24 points and 11 rebounds in his first game against his former team.

As the final minutes wound down, the game decidedly in Miami’s control, a Lakers fan yelled out, “Come on, Kobe. What happened to you today?”

The same could be asked of Gasol. And the Lakers’ reserves. And the disappearing offense.

And, really, the Lakers’ season so far.