The Heat Is on: Why the Los Angeles Lakers Will Lose on Christmas Day

Are the Lakers ready for the Heat on Christmas Day?

Are they just biding their time as they gear up for a year-end run to their third consecutive championship?

Or are they just tired?  And, worse, are they just not as good as they were the last two years?

In this very early stage of the NBA season, we have seen the Lakers make it look easy with a run of quick wins, then make it look very hard with losses to some of the most hapless teams in the league.

This latest loss to the Milwaukee Bucks is very disconcerting.  So many weaknesses were exposed. Andrew Bogut looked like Wilt Chamberlain.  Earl Boykins—all 5'5" of him—looked like LeBron James.

The real LeBron comes into town on Saturday riding an impressive and, if you are a Laker fan (or player), very scary win-to-loss ratio in a hot December (winning 10 out of 11 games with a close loss to Dallas). What looked like it had the makings of one of the great match-ups of the season actually may be a blow-out—with LeBron and Dwayne Wade getting all the gifts under the tree.

This statement is not made lightly.  Nothing the Lakers have done in the last month or so bespeaks of a winning, championship-headed team.

Granted, they have been without their vaunted big man, Andrew Bynum.  But, they had been winning in the early part of the season without him and it looked like their new guys—Matt Barnes and Steve Blake—had blended into the triangle offense in a seamless fashion.

Didn't they look exactly like this last year?  Didn't Ron Artest look just as horrible?  Didn't Derek Fisher look just as slow?  Didn't their bench look confused and unable to produce on a regular basis?

They sure as heck overcame all of that.  Maybe, in typical Phil Jackson style, they are not making much of these early season outings and just honing their team's rhythm as ...

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