The United States of America has many traditions. We barbecue on the Fourth of July, eat turkey on Thanksgiving and watch football on Sundays.
We also have another tradition brewing. It revolves around the woebegone Los Angeles Lakers and laughing at their plight.
Has it ever been worse in Laker Land? At least the Smush Parker years didn't come with expectations.
Read on for five takeaways from Wednesday night's NBA action.
Our aforementioned framing is that the Lakers are losers, abdicators of responsibility. Expectations control how happy or angry we are with a team, and L.A. is suffering for it.
For instance, how can you hate the effort L.A. gave against the San Antonio Spurs? Minus Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, the Lakers had no real shot on the road.
They trailed for much of the game, grinding out possessions that involved the likes of Robert Sacre. Then, at the end, they surged forth to nearly close the gap with a Metta World Peace flurry.
The Lakers might be circling the drain, but they can sometimes be worthy of respect in their injured state. Then again, this looks bad:
Lol at quotes from Lakers-Spurs. Pop said game was "tough to watch", D'Antoni said he's "really proud" of Lakers. Can u tell who won?— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 10, 2013
The question has been, "When will the Cavs get some talent to surround Kyrie Irving?" I wrote up Tristan Thompson last night, but I was impressed yet again.
For all the praise Anderson Varejao garnered for his rebounding, Thompson's been a monster on the boards in his place. The second-year pro out of Texas is averaging 12.8 snags in his past five games, and he was a force on the glass yet again on Wednesday night (14 rebounds).
The Cavs smoked the Hawks 99-83, and Kyrie Irving had 33 points on 15 shots. There's light at the end of the post-LeBron James tunnel. While Cleveland isn't necessarily a "good" team, it has a lot of cap space and a bright future.
Like a dope, I figured that Kevin Love's absence would trigger a Minnesota run. He hasn't been helping the cause since coming back from injury, shooting terribly and playing sluggish defense.
In the long term, Minnesota needs Love to be a star. In the short run, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic appeared to be a better fit upfront.
The problem is that neither player can address Minnesota's shooting woes. The Wolves went 3-of-13 from three again while getting blasted by a high-powered Oklahoma City Thunder offense.
The Wolves are last in the league in three-point percentage, shooting 30 percent from deep. They have all the makings of a quality team, but this has been their undoing thus far.
Memphis went 2-of-17 on threes, many of them wide-open looks. Even playing at home, the Warriors couldn't end their losing streak against the Grizzlies.
You could see why another team might want to play Memphis in the playoffs. Its offense is sloppy, ugly and often ineffective. The Warriors just aren't one of those teams.
I wrote a column handicapping the basketball awards and idiotically forgot to mention Chris Paul among my MVP candidates. Though I just see more momentum on behalf of Kevin Durant, Paul deserves to be in the conversation, if not leading the pack.
CP3 was a maestro with his team down in the second half on Wednesday, eventually breaking the Dallas defense to the tune of 19 points and 16 assists. Since the game was on national TV, expect some MVP buzz to result from it.
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) January 10, 2013
It remains a mystery as to why the consensus best point guard can remain underrated. Maybe that will change this season.