Lakers’ Malik Monk lives up to ‘Microwave’ nickname with hot shots in debut

Los Angeles Lakers guard Malik Monk answers questions during the NBA basketball team.
Lakers guard Malik Monk answers questions during the team’s media day on Sept. 28. Monk has already earned a nickname from his new teammates.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

As Malik Monk sat at a table doing his postgame interview for the Lakers on Sunday afternoon, Dwight Howard sauntered in, his voice barely above a whisper but audible.

“Microwave … Microwave ... The Microwave ... The Microwave … The Lethal Microwave, yeah.”

Monk shook his head and smiled. He earned the nickname from Howard and the rest of his Lakers teammates for his sizzling shooting during training camp.

“Once he hits one shot, it’s over,” Howard said. “He’s already heating up.”

Malik Monk led the Lakers with 15 points and Talen Horton-Tucker, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard all showed glimpses of their talent in a preseason-opening loss to the Nets.

Oct. 3, 2021

In his first exhibition game with the Lakers at Staples Center, Monk offered a glimpse of how The Microwave can heat up. His 15 points off the bench made Monk the leading scorer for the Lakers during their opening 123-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.


Monk’s 21 minutes were filled with highlights of his shooting ability, of the reasons why he’s been dubbed the Microwave.

“They call me that, so I take the nickname,” Monk said. “I don’t give myself nicknames. But, yeah, I think it fits well. I think it fits well. Perfect.”

Monk’s first three-pointer was a pull-up in the first half. He blocked a shot and drilled another three. By the end of the half, Monk had 10 points on four-for-six shooting, making both of his threes.

That sort of scoring outburst, Monk said, is what he and Lakers coach Frank Vogel defined as the shooting guard’s role this season.

“Coming in and doing what I did today. That’s my role and that’s what everybody expects from me and that’s what I’m going to do,” Monk said. “We talked about it. It’s no need to talk about it each and every day. Once he tell me one thing, I’ll get it and I’ll know what my role is.”

Of his three three-pointers, the most impressive was a step-back that Monk knocked down with one second left in the third quarter. His teammates on the bench stood and raised three fingers.


Monk had shown them why the Lakers were so bullish about signing him after four years in Charlotte. He posted career highs in points (11.7) and three-point shooting (40.1%) with the Hornets last season.

“We’re still surprised we got him, to be honest,” Anthony Davis said. “He’s a hell of a player. You saw what he did out there, the minutes that he played — he can score the ball. All three levels. Played hard, make the right reads. He’s going to be fun to have this year.”

Monk and Howard were teammates for one season in Charlotte, during the 2017-18 season, and the veteran center saw the shooting stroke first-hand.

Carmelo Anthony, who came off the bench for the first time last season in Portland, says he isn’t worried about whether he starts for the Lakers.

Oct. 1, 2021

“We gonna make sure we keep his confidence flowing and just continue to get better,” Howard said after practice Saturday. “I love what he brings to the game and this team, and I’m happy he’s here.”

At 23, Monk is one of the youngsters on this mostly 30-something Lakers team.

That’s good for him, Monk said, because there is so much knowledge for him to gain from his more experienced teammates who are willing to share.

“All the guys are like big brothers to me because I’m pretty young,” Monk said. “They have been in the league for a minute, so they all just take me in and just teach me as much as [they] can in that day. Tomorrow they will teach me some more stuff and the next day they will teach me some more stuff. Everybody taking me in with open arms.”