Welcome to the first edition of Lakers Lair Three-Man Weave, a subjective Lakers-related column where our resident Los Angeles fans answer a series of questions regarding the Purple & Gold. This week’s participants are Martin Soaries (@marsoaries), DJ Allen (@DJAllen23) and B.J. Boyer (@wcboyer24). In order to get to get amped for the holidays and the Lakers’ showdown with the Clippers on Christmas Day, this version will feature a very festive theme. Enjoy!
1. You can give one gift to this current Lakers team. What would it be?
Soaries: Patience. It’s been a rough December for the Lakers having lost 10 of their first 11 games, but health is having an influence on their progress. Being without D’Angelo Russell has set them back, but even with these struggles the Lakers are still just a couple of games outside of the eighth seed. There still aren’t any concrete expectations on this team. Just stay the course, keep building and maintain perspective on how things can improve going into the next part of the season.
Allen: Confidence. Injuries have undoubtedly hurt this team in the past couple of weeks. The Lakers were playing so well, surprising a lot of teams and once that first injury hit, it seemed to be an avalanche after that. I believe health has been a huge cause to this 1-10 record in the last 11 games and this slump has sucked the confidence out of this team. I believe if they can regain some confidence and believe in themselves again, they can get right back on track.
Boyer: I’m feeling very generous this holiday season so can I give three gifts? Health, a reduction of turnovers and more size to strengthen our interior? D’Angelo Russell’s knee may still be a cause of concern, Los Angeles is 27th league-wide in turnovers per game at 16.0 and they are giving up the most paint points per game in the month of December.
In all seriousness, I’d hone in on one specific player and that would be rookie Brandon Ingram. I’d nestle his shooting touch under a tree laced with Purple & Gold garland, and then I’d gift him some mental toughness as a stocking stuffer. Ingram’s touch has been bricky all year, and his social media is a hailstorm of criticism. At 19-years-old, it’s hard to imagine his confidence not waning. I’m 22 and I’m not confident in my ability to find matching socks this morning, so yeah.
2. If number of presents was based on best performer so far this season who would have the most gifts under the tree?
Soaries: I’d give it to Lou Williams. Even though they came in losses, his scoring tear in December was amazing, averaging over 23 points per game this month. In Russell’s absence he stepped up as a lead scorer to help keep the Lakers competitive. Plus, the team is shooting their best percentage (47.1 percent) with him on the floor, per NBA.com/stats.
Allen: To me, it would be Julius Randle. I love what he’s been doing this season just being a stat sheet stuffer. I was on the fence about him after he was drafted and coming into this season. In this day and age, having a forward that can’t stretch the floor is like NBA suicide. However, with everything else that Randle does, he’s made up for the lack of shooting and not to mention, he’s been working on that jumper. I’m coming around on the Julius Randle bandwagon and I hope he keeps this production up.
Boyer: Lou Williams. At 30 years old Williams is having a helluva year, averaging a career and team-high 19.1 points on a career-best 37% shooting from downtown. He’s second league-wide in total fourth quarter points at 231, trailing only Russell Westbrook who has tallied 245 thus far. Williams’ scoring binges have swung numerous games in the Lakers’ favor, and he’s a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Julius Randle is an honorable mention, but I think you have to give the nod to Lou here.
3. What’s the greatest gift you’ve been given as a Lakers fan?
Soaries: Pau Gasol. The way he fit with the team and Kobe at the time was beautiful.
Allen: Seeing Kobe Bryant win again back in 2009 and 2010, strictly because all of the criticism that he faced. Many said he would never win again and that he would never be a leader but he proved many wrong. Not just once, but twice.
Boyer: Getting to watch the team win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. Some of my fondest basketball-watching memories come from those repeat Laker teams led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. I was in the 8th and 9th grades when the Lakers clinched those championships and I was truly starting to become enamored with the game of basketball. Watching my favorite team climb the mountain consecutive times only strengthened my love for the NBA and made me more of a fan.
4. What’s the worst gift you’ve been given as a Lakers fan?
Soaries: The vetoed Chris Paul trade.
Allen: Loul Deng’s contract.
Boyer: Byron Scott for sure. Just the reminiscing about him stalking the sideline for Los Angeles is enough to make me shutter. Thank God for Luke.
5. Give your favorite Christmas Day Lakers memory.
Allen: Watching Kobe Bryant drop 34 points on Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks back in 2012. I always love watching Kobe and Melo go at it on the court.
Boyer: Defeating the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day in 2008. The Celtics had downed the Lakers that past summer in the NBA Finals, and the series concluded with a 131-92 thrashing in Game 6. All summer pundits chattered about the Lakers’ lack of toughness ultimately doomed them against the physically imposing Celtics, and with Boston trekking into Staples on Christmas riding a 19-game winning streak, the stage was set for Los Angeles to hush the critics.
Kobe Bryant’s 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists led Los Angeles in a 92-83, and it proved that the Lakers had the grit to compete with the titans.
Soaries: Same as BJ, beating the Celtics in 2008. That was also Phil Jackson’s 1,000th win. The Lakers had to grind that game out. That game had one of my favorite Kobe dunks of the 24 era: