From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: Earlier this month, Phil Jackson said the Lakers would need to have a “come to Jesus” moment if they were to make the playoffs. If you ask Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, they’d say that moment came last week when the Lakers held a team meeting in Memphis. Bryant acknowledged during the meeting that he could be hard to play with and asked Howard if he disliked playing alongside him, according to The Los Angeles Times. “It really helped,” Howard, when asked for details of the meeting, said after the Lakers’ practice Monday. “It helped [us] and it helped everybody on the team. It was great. People have said it, it was a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting. It was good. Stuff like that takes time. We all got to a point that whatever needed to be said was said but none of the stuff was taken personal. We all want to add another banner up there and all have rings, and in order for us to do that we all have to do it together.”
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: Well, give the Lakers this: they kept plugging away at the problem they needed to figure out and after multiple iterations of Mike D’Antoni’s system, they settled upon one that finally looks like it can be a model for success. And just as with the last one in which Kobe Bryanttook the lead as the defensive vanguard against the primary ballhandler, so has he stepped up again as the primary playmaker. It is a role steeped in irony given Kobe’s consistent proclamations of who he is — a scorer — and especially so considering how we expected the dynamic between Steve Nash and Kobe to work out, but D’Antoni has once again co-opted a supposed weakness on the team and turned it into a strength. If nothing else, Kobe lives for challenges and his current one is certainly one of the most formidable of his career: to be Nash within D’Antoni’s system.
From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: Did the Lakers do a 180 on Sunday compared to the previous Sunday or what? After playing one of the most lackluster performances of the season a week ago in Toronto, which began a disappointing three-game road trip, the Lakers returned home on Friday night and set a different tone in how they played as a unit in their victory against the Utah Jazz. Entering Sunday’s matchup against the best team in basketball, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers had an opportunity to not only beat an elite team, but to show the entire basketball world that they aren’t the 19-25 team that their record represents. The Lakers did just that with a thrilling game to beat OKC, and they did it in impressive fashion. Of course, the Lakers still have a steep mountain to climb just to make it into the playoffs, as they have to play at least .600 ball for the remainder of the season. However, with all the negativity and disappointment that has surrounded the Lakers this season, the last two performances have cracked open the gloomy clouds that have set up shop in Laker Land. With the Lakers’ Grammy road trip coming up after Tuesday’s game against New Orleans in LA, the timing for this progress is essential.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Curators at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame should watch Steve Nash closely in the coming weeks. If recent trends persist, they may have to make the following addendum to his biographical blurb: Switched to shooting guard halfway through the 2012-13 season to help save one of the most disappointing teams inNBA history. In this most surreal Lakers season, the top point guard of his generation suddenly deferring ball-handling duties to Kobe Bryant has been the oddest twist. “The roles are all kind of upside down,” Bryant said Monday. Nash was unrecognizable even to Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni, who had watched him win a pair of most-valuable-player awards in Phoenix, after the 17-year veteran scored 17 points to go with only five assists Sunday against Oklahoma City.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: With a two-game winning streak over winning teams Utah and Oklahoma City, the Lakers have decent chances to make it a six-game winning streak with lightweights next on the schedule: New Orleans, Phoenix, Minnesota and Detroit.The last three of those games are on the road, where the Lakers have been woeful, but their hope is that the team meeting held Wednesday in Memphis will continue to pay dividends on the season-long seven-game trip that starts in Phoenix. Dwight Howard said Monday that the team meeting Wednesday helped refocus everyone off individual desires — including him and Kobe Bryant: “We both want to win.” Howard said the connection between him and Bryant, in particular, has strengthened lately. Howard said they have reached a point to “think as one and be one on the court. That took some time, but we’re getting better.” Howard looked back on the meeting and said: “It really helped. It helped everybody on the team. It was great. People said it was like a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting. … None of the stuff was taken personally. We all want to hang another banner up here, and we all want to have rings.”