From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Nobody is questioning that Dwight Howard is playing through shoulder pain. What Steve Nash on the court Sunday and countless others off the court have questioned is why that means he can’t move his feet quickly? Once again on Sunday against the Heat Howard was solid — 15 points and 9 rebounds in 41 minutes — but he is not the game changing, dominant force the Lakers expected or need if they plan to make the playoffs. The shoulder injury is part of that and it bothers him every game because it gets hit and his arm gets pulled.
From Eric Pinucs LA Times: Before practice on Monday, Coach Mike D’Antoni said all of his players know their roles — they just may not accept them.” ‘I don’t know my role.’ Yeah, you do,” said D’Antoni. “Everybody knows their role. We spell it out every day.” Various Lakers have expressed concern this season about where they fit in the offense — or the team — including Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison. Jamison disappeared from the rotation for a long stretch, finally snapping to media about his frustration. Gasol was openly unhappy with his role playing outside of the low post and coming off the bench. “You might not accept that role and now you have, ‘Well, he doesn’t understand me,’ ” said D’Antoni. “Yeah, I do. You just don’t want to do what I want you to do.” Gasol is out for six to eight weeks with a foot injury. Jamison is back in the rotation, whether by attrition or merit. Howard is still searching for how he can fit in with D’Antoni’s offense. D’Antoni said the Lakers have improved of late and noted most of any drama was more important to the media than to any of the players.
From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN LA: Kobe Bryant doesn’t get what all the fuss was about. If Bryant wanted to call out Dwight Howard for resting his injured shoulder for three games last week despite being medically cleared to play, he would’ve just done so. Instead, Bryant claimed his call for “urgency” was misinterpreted as a call-out and turned into a “manufactured conflict.” “I didn’t say anything wrong. I didn’t say anything to hammer him over the head or take a run at him,” Bryant said before the Los Angeles Lakers’ practice Monday. “That was actually manufactured. I’d own up to it if I took a run at somebody. “Urgency is something we’ve been trumpeting, we’ve been beating that drum since the beginning of the season when we started struggling.” The comments Bryant is referring to came from an interview he gave to ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan before the Lakers played the Boston Celtics last Thursday.
From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll: With the exception of their collapse in the fourth quarter — or the Heat overwhelming them, however you care to interpret it — the Lakers’ performance was mostly an admirable one. The ball was moving well, the Lakers were finding ways to beat the suffocating pressure of the Heat’s blitzing pick-and-roll defense, and you were inevitably left with the question of where this effort was a few nights past in Boston. If you say that the Lakers wake up for marquee opponents, that argument doesn’t hold water considering that it’s the Celtics, although of the Lakers who were on the 2010 title team, only Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace were in uniform that evening. In any case, should the Lakers have deigned to bring the same game plan against Charlotte, we’re probably looking at a 20 point victory. Same thing in the disastrous loss to Phoenix.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: The Lakers returned home Monday after a two-week, seven-game, drama-filled trip to find that the noise hasn’t quieted down. Questions about team chemistry, locker room controversies and their shaky pick-and-roll plays dominated the hour before they took the practice floor. Much of the attention centered on comments made by Kobe Bryant about Dwight Howard and Howard’s father about Kobe and Coach Mike D’Antoni. First Bryant was quoted in an ESPNBoston.com report as saying that the Lakers didn’t have time for Howard’s shoulder to heal and that “We need some urgency.” His comments were seen as needling the Lakers center. Then there was Howard’s father, who suggested that D’Antoni needed to act as a mediator between Bryant and his son to hash out their differences. The Lakers coach had not read the elder Howard’s comments but called his comments “cool. It’s his father, he should come to his defense.” D’Antoni said he would not monitor Bryant’s words, adding “we’re all big guys and we all have to do our job.”