LOS ANGELES -- Lakers forward Ron Artest on Saturday raffled off his championship ring from last season for charity. The Lakers, meanwhile, spent Christmas looking quite willing to donate championship rings from this season to another team.
After a second straight ugly home loss, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was seething. He vowed to really get on his teammates when they next practice Monday.
"It's going to get through,'' Bryant said of the message. "Beat them in the head until it gets through.''
If anybody thought an ugly 98-79 loss to Milwaukee last Tuesday would wake up the two-time defending champions, think again. They looked uninterested in Saturday's 96-80 drubbing by Miami at the Staples Center.
"I'm just upset (with) how we're playing,'' Bryant said. "I think these games mean more to our opponents than they do to us. I think we need to get that straight. We need to play with more focus and put more importance on these games.''
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While the loss to the Bucks was written off by many as one of those nights a team simply overlooks an undermanned foe, that certainly shouldn't have been the case against the Heat (23-8), a legitimate title contender that won for the 14th time in 15 games. Bryant tried to laugh off that aspect of the defeat.
"We always suck on Christmas,'' Bryant said. "I don't think we're mean enough to be able to show up on Christmas Day and play. We should just take off this day.''
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who ripped the NBA earlier in the week for playing games on Christmas, has no problem with that suggestion. And Bryant certainly is right about the Lakers regularly getting booed off the court on the holiday.
Since Bryant entered the NBA in 1996, his Lakers are just 5-8 on Christmas. They were wiped out 102-87 by Cleveland last year, which prompted many on the Lakers to say this year would be different.
"Disappointing finish to a game that was a hyped as high as that one was,'' Jackson said. "But it was no surprise to us as a coaching staff. ... We're not playing very good ball. And we haven't won a quarter in about nine quarters now. And we're not surprised with how poorly we've played.''
It got so bad watching Saturday that Jackson complained about another possible medical malady. Jackson has had both hips replaced and might need a knee replacement.
"It's no fun to go out there and have a game like (Saturday),'' said Jackson, who criticized his team's ball movement and team defense. "You have to sit 3 1/2 to four hours, a televised game. You get hemorrhoids sitting there long enough.''
Jackson watched his team shoot just 40.5 percent for the game. He watched stars Bryant and Pau Gasol shoot a combined 0-of-11 in the first quarter as the Lakers fell behind 20-14. Regarding Gasol, who started 0-of-7, Jackson said his center was "lollygagging'' and wasn't "decisive about his jump shot or passes.''
Before the first Lakers All-Star scored a point, a dunk by Bryant two minutes into the second quarter, the deficit was 25-19. Bryant finished 6-of-16 for 17 points.
Still, one can't ever criticize the effort Bryant gives. As for others on the Lakers, Bryant was doing plenty of that.
"Individually, I think you have to make that decision yourself on what's important,'' Bryant said. "The game has to be the most important thing. You have focus on it. You have to play every game like it's your last. You have to be attentive to what's just going on. It's just serious stuff.
"You can't just have two rings and say, 'OK, we're satisfied with what we got.' I'm not rolling with that. I'm not going to let that slide. So you need to get in gear. ... Everybody must be on the same page. You're only as strong as your weakest link. We all have to lock in and get going.''
Asked if the Lakers might be getting bored during the regular season after having been to three straight Finals, Bryant barked, "It's your job to show up and work. I don't buy that crap.''
At least Bryant didn't say anything that will get him penalized by the NBA. After being ejected late in the loss to Milwaukee, Bryant declined to talk to the media after that game and after the next two straight practices on Thursday and Friday (the team didn't hold a workout Wednesday). Bryant said his silence was because he "didn't want to say anything that would get me fined.''
What Bryant says to his teammates Monday figures to be quite salty. But at least it will be behind closed doors before the Lakers (21-9) play at San Antonio, which has the NBA's best record at 25-4.
"I don't care if we're playing Minnesota,'' Bryant said of the next foe not mattering. "Yeah, I said it. I'd still be concerned.''
It was a bad day all around for Bryant, the 2007-08 NBA MVP. He watched as the guy who has won the past two trophies, Miami forward LeBron James, had a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Late in the game, the two were jawing at each other as they went up and down the court.
"Just two competitors,'' James said. "Guys just trying to will their team to victory, and I was blessed that our team was able to come up with a win.''
Bryant joked he "just asked him what he got for Christmas.''
If what transpired Saturday is an indication, James and company look to have a much better chance of being given rings in 2011 than the Lakers do.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson