LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Lakers are set to take the court for the franchise’s 47th Christmas Day game, but LeBron James said he was expecting the Friday game against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center to feel a little different than years past.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play here on Christmas as a Laker and also as an opponent,” he told reporters Thursday. “It’s a beautiful feeling being here, but it’s not the same without the Laker faithful, without the fans, without celebrity row, without the bright lights. It’s just a totally different feeling.
“It’s just strictly basketball, which is fine,” James continued. “But our game is entertainment as well. And when you’re out there, you hope to entertain some people live as well. But we have to do it. Hopefully we know we’re making a mark while they’re watching the game.”
James is third on the career Christmas Day scoring list with 361 points. He needs to score 17 points to pass Oscar Robertson for second place and 35 to pass Kobe Bryant for first.
The Lakers are also trying to rebound from their season opener Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, where the team received their championship rings before falling 116-109.
“I wasn’t totally unhappy with how we played,” coach Frank Vogel told reporters Thursday. “Obviously, it could be better in a lot of ways.
“It was one of those games where there was a lot of good defensive possessions by us where they made a tough shot and conversely I thought there were a lot of good offensive possessions by us where we missed the shot,” he continued. “You’re going to have games like that so I’m not overly concerned.”
The Lakers are 23-23 on Christmas Day and have lost seven of their last 10 showings — including a 111-106 loss to the Clippers last year. The team has played on Christmas Day 46 times, second-most in NBA history behind the Knicks.
The last time the Lakers didn’t play on Christmas Day was in 1998 when the owners’ lockout of the players delayed the start of the season until February.