As Malik Monk sat at a table doing his postgame interview for the Lakers Sunday afternoon, Dwight Howard sauntered in wearing purple pants, his voice barely above a whisper, but audible enough to hear him say:
“Microwave…Microwave….The Microwave….The Microwave…The Lethal Microwave, yeah.”
Monk shook his head and smiled.
He had earned “The Microwave” nickname from Howard and the rest of his Lakers teammates for his sizzling shooting during training camp.
“Once he hits one shot, it’s over,” Howard said. “He’s already heating up.”
In his first exhibition game with the Lakers at Staples Center, Monk offered a glimpse of how The Microwave can heat up and provide a scoring spark.
His 15 points off the bench made Monk the leading scorer for the Lakers during their 123-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
His 21 minutes of play was a highlight of Monk’s shooting capabilities, of the reason why he’s been dubbed The Microwave by the Lakers.
“Um, they call me that, so I take the nickname,” Monk said. “I don’t give myself nicknames. But, yeah, I think it fits well. I think it fits well. Perfect. Yeah.”
Malik’s first three-pointer was a pull-up in the first half. His second three came after he had blocked a shot and drilled another three. By the end of the first half, Monk had 10 points on four-for-six shooting, making both of his threes.
That sort of scoring outburst, Monk said, is what he and Lakers coach Frank Vogel defined as the shooting guard’s role this season.
“Coming in and doing what I did today. That’s my role and that’s what everybody expects from me and that’s what I’m going to do,” Monk said. “We talked about it. It’s no need to talk about it each and every day. Once he tell me one thing, I’ll get it and I’ll know what my role is.”
Of his three three-pointers made, the most impressive came at the end of the third, a step-back trey Monk knocked down with one second left in the quarter.
His teammates on the bench stood and raised three fingers in the air.
Monk had shown them why the Lakers were so bullish on signing him after four years in Charlotte.
He had a posted career high in points (11.7) and three-point shooting (40.1%) with the Hornets last season.
“We’re still surprised we got him, to be honest,” Anthony Davis said. “He’s a hell of a player. You saw what he did out there the minutes that he played — he can score the ball. All three levels. Played hard, make the right reads. He’s going to be fun to have this year.”
Monk and Howard were teammates for one season in Charlotte, during the 2017-18 season, and the veteran center saw the shooting stroke first-hand.
“We gonna make sure we keep his confidence flowing and just continue to get better,” Howard said after practice Saturday. “I love what he brings to the game and this team, and I’m happy he’s here.”
At 23, Monk is one of the youngsters on this mostly 30-something Lakers team.
That’s a good thing for him, Monk said, because there is so much knowledge for him to gain from his more experienced teammates who are willing to share.
“Actually, all the guys are like big brothers to me because I’m pretty young,” Monk said. “They have been in the league for a minute, so they all just take me in and just teach me as much as (they) can in that day. Tomorrow they will teach me some more stuff and the next day they will teach me some more stuff. Everybody taking me in with open arms.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.