The Los Angeles Lakers started their Wednesday with a morning meeting intended to clear the air.
Like just about everything else surrounding the team, it didn’t work.
In their evening meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies, they lost 106-93, their fourth loss in a row just hours after a meeting in which “guys went at each other a little bit,” the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan reported. Two of those guys, apparently, were Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard. From Bresnahan:
[Coach Mike D’Antoni] asked players to speak up. Steve Nash went first.
Nash, in his first season with the Lakers, said he didn’t care how they played, whether it was via pick-and-roll or fastbreak or whatever. He just wanted everybody to be comfortable in the system. It was seen as a sacrifice by Nash, who played four seasons under D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense in Phoenix and won two NBA MVP awards while doing it.
Bryant also spoke up, acknowledging he could be “hard to play with” and asking Howard if that bothered him.
Howard’s answer was unclear, though he did not engage Bryant in nearly as vocal a manner as Bryant engaged him.
“He didn’t go back at Kobe,” said the person who witnessed the meeting.
Against the Grizzlies, Howard had two points and two rebounds, leaving after aggravating a shoulder injury. Bryant led the team with 29 points and, after the game, said he wasn’t sure if his message got through to Howard. As the Times tells it:
“I don’t know,” he said curtly.
Does he hope it got through?
“No,” he said sarcastically.
Of equal importance, is Howard bothered by the way Bryant plays?”No, I’m not,” Howard said while walking to the team bus. “It’s something that…we’ve all got to learn how to play together.”
The Lakers are 17-25, 12th in the conference and four games out of eighth place. It’s pretty clear that Howard isn’t working out…whether it’s his fault, Bryant’s or they’re both to blame. And Mike D’Antoni isn’t the answer as coach of this aging squad. Who knew Bernie Bickerstaff’s tenure would be the best days of the 2012-13 season?
“Now we’re at the wall and we’re going to find a way to help each other over that wall,” Antawn Jamison said, “or we’re going to let the wall push us back even farther.”
Pau Gasol wasn’t happy that news of the team meeting reached the media.
“I don’t know how that got out. When we have meetings, we should deal with our stuff as a family, as a group, and our family should be tight,” Gasol said. “If it’s not tight, then there are cracks and the situation just keeps getting worse until at some point it will explode.”