From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Dwight Howard refused to rest his ailing shoulder even though the Lakers were playing a team 20 games under .500. Our season starts Sunday. Steve Nash and Metta World Peace played deep into the fourth quarter even with the Lakers holding a 20-point lead. Our season starts Sunday. Rookie Robert Sacre even tried to invoke a karmic reversal by wearing radio personality Vic “the Brick” Jacobs’ fox fur hat before the game, a look that could be best described as halt couture. Our season starts Sunday. Maybe Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni was onto something more than a catchy mantra Friday when he uttered those four words after another crushing loss. The Lakers took their season out of reverse two days later by pulling out all the stops and making a few too. In a strange but true story for a team with NBA Finals aspirations, the Lakers’ 113-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night at Staples Center was their first triumph of 2013 after six defeats.
From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA: Steve Nash was on the “Max & Marcellus Show” on ESPNLA 710 radio on Monday and couldn’t help but let out a self-deprecating laugh when Max Kellerman laid out the predicament he’s in this season: Here Nash is, a 38-year-old point guard in his 17th season joining the enemy in the Los Angeles Lakers to try to get a ring after playing with the Phoenix Suns for so long … and right now a championship seems about as far-fetched as Nash winning the dunk contest during All-Star weekend. While things certainly haven’t gone according to plan (at Nash’s introductory press conference in July he said, “This is going to be a really exciting chapter of my career,” and I’m sure he’d choose a different adjective than “exciting” these days), the former two-time MVP is keeping the team focused on a more humble goal of just qualifying for the postseason.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: There were plenty of reasons why the Lakers won Sunday, the least of which was the fact Cleveland had only won nine previous games. First, there was the return of Dwight Howard from a shoulder injury that had shelved him for three games. He finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds and one blocked shot. There also was Earl Clark’s inspired play in his second start of the season. The little-used reserve scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked three shots and handed out four assists. Then there was Kobe Bryant’s defense on Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving. Bryant held Irving to 15 points, well below his 23.6 average, which helped hold the Cavs to only 41.1 percent shooting from the floor. “He disrupts the whole offense on the ball,” Coach Mike D”Antoni said. “He’s done that a couple of games. We’ll continue to milk that one.” Bryant, whose on-ball defense has earned him All-Defensive Team honors, is expected to split his time guarding Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings when the Milwaukee Bucks visit today.
From Andrew Ungvari, Lakers Nation: There’s nothing we can do about it now. What’s in the past, is in the past. The Lakers awful start to the 2012-13 season was nothing that anyone envisioned when the team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the offseason. In addition to lofty expectations, the team has had to deal with injuries to four of their top-six players, including a season-ender to back-up center/power forward/spark plug Jordan Hill. All you can really do is shake your head. Even though the effort hasn’t been there too much of the time, a lot of is just plain ol’ bad luck. If, like me, you believe that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, then you are fully aware of how much good luck the Lakers have had over the years.
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: Dwight Howard is a Los Angeles Laker. Rather, the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard, and are still anxiously awaiting his arrival on the court. When he lifted up his purple and gold uniform for the first time beside Mitch Kupchak during their press conference it was a moment of elation for fans of the Lakers, but a moment that was handcuffed to a simple yet dirty little fact: Dwight Howard was still in heavy rehabilitation for his surgically repaired back. What would his timetable be? January was a widely speculated return time frame for the big man, yet he managed to get back on the court during the Lakers atrocious preseason. So here we are, now 37 games into the Lakers season, and they are still searching for the Dwight Howard they needed; the defensive anchor, the difference maker, the yin on defense to Kobe’s yang on offense. The Lakers defense, as a whole, has been miserable this season. Currently, the Lakers are giving up 101.9 points per game (26th in the league), and 107 points per 100 possessions. Simply not good enough for a title or bust squad that is currently going to have to win games at a feverish pace to make the playoffs at all.