The Lakers were able to finally pick up a win in their last game, providing a nice Christmas gift to their fans by beating their Staples Center co-tenants. After the game Luke Walton expressed happiness at the win, but also warned his players against feeling too good about a game which saw them nearly surrender another lead while going through another stretch of uninspiring play in the 3rd quarter. Walton’s message was one of support and of teaching, a message that might have gotten lost on his guys if he hadn’t built up the positive capital earlier during the year.

After doling out those sobering messages, though, Walton also reminded the press corps that his team does have what it takes — when they’re dialed in and focused. He cited the big leads against good teams and how accomplishing those things are not easy. He used this message as a reminder and to attempt to coax his players into doing the right thing more often, to bring the correct level of focus for more minutes. This is teaching. This is coaching. Walton too has a learning curve, but I’m happy to see him trying to hit the right notes with a team he’s trying to sculpt into a winner over the long haul even though they are not yet there right now.

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This was a Christmas miracle in some way. The Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak as they beat the Clippers, 111-102.

And quite frankly, they didn’t look energized to start with as the Clippers, without their two big studs Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, played some crisp offense. It got J.J. Redick some open shots, who scored 12 in the first quarter. But the Lakers picked it up at the end of the first as they finished the period with a 9-2 rush.

It became messy in the second (especially at the end of the half), which somehow sparked the Lakers a little bit. The Clippers also became a little listless and the Lakers took advantage. They cut the deficit to three by the half.

Then in the third, the frontline got the Lakers going. They burst through with a 13-0 run and we saw some defense that we seemingly hadn’t seen in weeks. The Lakers would go on to have an overall run of 28-9 and would lead as many as 18 points. But I’m sure in the back of the fans’ minds that they would blow this lead.

And there it went as the Clippers rang off 13 straight points. But they never got closer than four points. D’Angelo Russell made a corner three. Then Lou Williams (14 points) got hot as he helped hold off the Clippers with some big buckets of his own. Nick Young put away the pesky Clips with one final three-pointer.

We got some balanced scoring from the Lakers as seven out of the nine guys that played had double figures (Mozgov and Young had 19 each). Brandon Ingram played a really good floor game where he was able to direct traffic for the offense. Russell played alongside Ingram late in the game and he did a good job playing off the ball. Thomas Robinson was one of the two players that didn’t reach double digits but his energy helped the Lakers within reach when they were trailing. Luol Deng had another double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) to go along with his two steals and two blocks. Julius Randle returned to the line-up and went for 13-7-8.

The Clippers looked pretty good early before their offense somehow bogged down; this is where they really needed either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin to settle them down. While they had their moments where they were hitting shots, the Lakers did a good job forcing some turnovers (Clippers had 15 compared to the Lakers’ 13). When they weren’t switching wildly, they did a better job playing some positional defense in the second half. It helped that the Clippers were missing Paul and Griffin. The Clips also lost Redick, who didn’t play in the fourth due to a hamstring injury. The Lakers shot just under 48 percent while the Clips were under 44 percent.

The Lakers get their second win in December. Sure, the Clippers were undermanned but no one’s going to feel sorry for them; the Lakers will take any win. The Lakers didn’t play a complete game but at least, it ended well for them. As for what’s next, they’ll take on the grimy Utah Jazz on Tuesday. We know the Jazz would rather keep the game’s pace like they’re playing in quicksand. The next month will continue being tough for the team as Larry Nance, Jr. was diagnosed to have a bone bruise on his left knee. Injuries are never good. Hope he can recover sooner than later.

As for all of you readers, please stay healthy. Hope you guys had a Merry Christmas!

First off, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! The last 12 months have offered a year unlike any other for the Lakers with much uncertainty, a goodbye to a legend, upheaval in the coaching staff, and the additions of new players. Through it all it seems as though things are finally steadying, even though there’s been uneven play from this year’s team.

As I wrote in the preview to the game vs. the Magic, I think any burying of this team is premature and lacks the nuance and context required. I get the frustrations of losing and of seeing the team build leads only to forfeit them with mistake ridden play. But those frustrations must be placed against the proper backdrop. The Lakers are playing the long game. That might be hard to swallow for a team coming of three consecutive terrible seasons, but take it with some eggnog and it might go down easier.

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The nightmarish road trip ended for the Lakers against the Magic in Orlando. And the result was pretty much the same as most of their games as Orlando thumped the Lakers, 109-90.

The Lakers couldn’t get anything going at the start as they missed their first 10 shots. Orlando got off to a 10-0 start and the team from L.A. got rejected as many times in the first quarter as I did at a club on a regular Saturday night. The Magic blocked the Lakers nine times and were up by 25 at one point.

L.A. made a couple of runs in the second half. D’Angelo Russell scored 12 points in the third and helped cut the deficit to 8. But the Magic brought the lead back to 20 as the Lakers defense continued to have holes. Jordan Clarkson then caught fire and chopped the deficit to 6 but Orlando countered with a 13-0 run to put away the game.

It felt like they’ve taken a couple of steps back since their game against Cleveland. They have trouble playing all four quarters. If they don’t blow big leads (like they did against Miami and Charlotte), they get off to slow starts. Inexperienced teams tend to do that.

But what’s really disappointing is that the Cleveland game seemed like an aberration compared to the rest of the trip. I’m not saying they’re selfish and going after their numbers but the ball movement is no longer there. In that 10-10 start, they would fly around on defense even if they overplay and we didn’t see that for much of the trip. We saw the Magic players blow by them pretty easily. And so many shooters got open. Even though Elfrid Payton isn’t known as a shooter, he got plenty of open looks on his way to 25 points. NBA players will likely make the open shots. Serge Ibaka handled the Lakers on both ends with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks.

On the other side, Clarkson led the Lakers with 18 points while Russell scored 15 (though he didn’t score after his hot third). The Lakers turned the ball over 16 times as some of the passes looked lazy or careless. They also only shot 36 percent while the Magic shot over 50 percent. (Julius Randle didn’t play because of the birth of his child. Congrats to him and his fiancée, Kendra, by the way.)

So the Lakers still only have won one game this month (1-12 in December). What the team has to do is get back to the basics. We all understand that the injuries are part of the game. But some teams have the mentality of “next man up”; San Antonio, Memphis, and Portland have played well like that in the past few years. They don’t change their system and they thrived. The team we’re seeing now is completely different from the one that started 10-10. They gotta put forth the effort on defense and fly around, even if it means overplaying them. And they have to move the ball around more instead of trying to do it solo. Players have to play for each other instead of for themselves.

They have a big test against the Clippers on Christmas Day. We’re not expecting them to win but it would be great if they can get back to what made them good, promising, and exciting in the first place. Play within the system and they’ll be back to okay. It’s frustrating but everyone that’s invested in this team has to be patient.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Remember that this is still a game so let’s all stay happy.

A funny thing happened last night. Not funny “ha ha ha”, but funny like I totally saw it coming but still got a bit perturbed by it. In words I have uttered to others multiple times, “that’s your fault” — but this time I was saying it to myself. Last night, against the Heat, the Lakers blew another double digit lead and lost to the Heat. Immediately after that loss, on social media, fans flooded my mentions telling me how terrible the Lakers are. Here, at my site, commenters did the same thing.

This frustrated me. It frustrated me because I think that’s short sighted. It frustrated me because I think the Lakers aren’t as bad as they come off by losing these games. But guess what, that’s my fault. It’s my fault because, let’s face it, I know how some of ya’ll are. Not how all of you are, but some of you. That vocal minority tends to talk loudest when things go poorly and then get silent when things go well. That’s their prerogative and their right. It also frustrates me. But, again, that’s my fault. I know these people exist. I should just let it slide.

What does this have to do with the game against the Magic? Well, not a lot. The Lakers look like a bad team right now. The Magic, as confusing as they are as a construct, are better than them right now. Their record is better and they just beat beat the same Heat team the Lakers blew that lead against. In other words, if the Lakers’ lose tonight I will not be surprised. After all, they will again be without Julius Randle who traveled back to Los Angeles to be with his fiance for the birth of their child. They will also be without Larry Nance. Tarik Black is doubtful to play. This is three-fourths of the team’s front court rotation and they are facing a Magic team whose strength is their front court.

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The Lakers are 11-20 and 1-4 on their current 7 game road trip. In the 1st half the Hornets game it looked as though the team had started to recapture some of their early season form only to give it all back like a gambler at a hot craps table who decided he needed to go test roulette next instead of enjoying his comped steak dinner. With that loss the chance of having an over .500 roadie evaporated.

The trip can still be salvaged, though. They close with two games in Florida, facing the 9-20 Heat and the 13-17 Magic. Neither game is a gimme, not on the road and not against teams who have some good talent. But, still, the Lakers have been close to getting back on track for a while now, falling short mostly through a stretch of mistake ridden basketball in nearly every game that proves too costly to overcome.

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I’d be lying if I said I felt no disappointment or frustration after Tuesday’s loss to the Hornets. After controlling the game for the 1st half, the Lakers struggled mightily during the 3rd quarter to let the Hornets back in. The 4th quarter became a test of execution and timely plays, with Charlotte doing a bit more of the former and on the receiving end of a few more of the latter. A loss ensued and, as per the usual, when a loss like that occurs the torches were lit and the pitchforks were sharpened.

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Pete and I are back with our 2nd episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast. In this episode, we talk all things Julius Rande, the new collective bargaining agreement, and take a few mailbag questions.

Click through below to listen to the pod.

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