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Lonzo Ball-less Lakers’ struggles will be on display for all to see during Christmas appearance

By in Press Enterprise on December 25, 2017

By Elliott Teaford

So familiar, so unfamiliar. The Lakers will play on Christmas for the 44th time when they play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night at Staples Center, the second-most appearances since the NBA began its run of holiday basketball feasts 70 years ago.

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Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson will call the game on TNT, and they might even allow Johnson to do a little play-by-play here and there while dissecting the youthful and inconsistent Lakers.

After all, there is much to discuss and debate about the Lakers, starting with their 20-year-old rookie point guard, Lonzo Ball, who won’t play against the Timberwolves because of a sprained left shoulder suffered in the second quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Lakers said Ball would be re-evaluated in one week.

Expectations in Lakersland have grown to impossible heights since his second overall selection after one standout season at UCLA.

The results are pretty much the same, though.

In fact, they are exactly the same.

The Lakers are 11-20 this season, the same record they had after 31 games in 2016-17. They play with a sense of purpose that seems to come and go. They play with an efficiency and a rhythm that also ebbs and flows. They are a team in an ongoing search for an identity.

It’s easy to recall a different time, earlier this century, when the Lakers were perennial championship contenders, when their roster was dominated by superstars such as O’Neal and Kobe Bryant during their three-peat from 2000-02 and Bryant and Pau Gasol during their repeat of 2009-10.

Christmas matchups once were possible title previews or actual reviews, in […]    

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