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Kobe doesn’t need to say it anymore, it’s obvious Howard needs to play with urgency

Feb 8, 2013, 12:46 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard reacts as he looks up at the scoreboard in the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston Reuters

When Kobe Bryant said Dwight Howard needed to suck it up and play through pain, this was not what he had mind.

Kobe wanted a sense of urgency, he wanted leadership, he wanted a guy who would shows some fight to help push the Lakers toward the playoffs. He wanted passion.

Thursday night Howard showed none of that. He looked slowed by injuries and he looked rusty. Howard was unimpressive against an undersized Celtics front line the Lakers needed him to dominate — 9 points (4-of-8 shooting) 1-of-6 from the free throw line, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 turnovers, and he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Howard also is supposed to be anchoring the Lakers defense, but his rotations were slow, and he was terrible helping on screens and pick-and-rolls.

It wasn’t Howard’s fault the Lakers were blown out of the Boston Garden 116-95, that was a total team (lack of) effort. But if you are one of the team’s leaders you need to bring energy to try to turn the momentum in games like this. Howard was part of the scenery.

Mike D’Antoni was asked after the game if Howard needs to play better for the Lakers to have a shot at making the playoffs (answer via a tweet from Kevin Ding).

“He has to. We don’t have a whole lot of other solutions.”

That is where the Lakers are at — their season rests on Howard’s sore shoulders and aching back. Pau Gasol is out six to eight weeks (at least), holding down the paint falls to Howard now. It’s going to take more than a protective sleeve to get him right. He’s clearly still slowed by the injury, but he also isn’t showing a lot of fight.

Howard wanted out of Orlando because he wanted to be in a bigger market where he was the focus of an elite franchise. Be careful what you wish for. This is what it takes to lead an elite franchise.

Kobe tried to push Howard into that leadership role with his comments to Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com on Wednesday. But after Thursday night Kobe was backing off that — because he could. The need for urgency was obvious because Boston played with it. Kobe didn’t need to say it again, he didn’t need to say anything.

Kobe went the “things were blown out of proportion” line of defense, here is his quote via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“I think the statements from yesterday were just really overblown, to be honest with you. I didn’t say anything that was offensive or try to take a run at him. It’s pretty shocking in terms of how everybody reacted to it. I wasn’t trying to do anything. It’s pretty simple. If he’s healthy, he’ll play. If he’s not, he won’t. I didn’t say anything that was groundbreaking. Do we need urgency? Yeah, we need urgency but if he’s hurt and it’s going to get worse, he can’t play. It was a pretty interesting day to see how everybody kind of jumped on those statements….

“If I had a message in mind, I’d make it pretty black and white. I don’t need to be surreptitious about it.”

I don’t know about you, but “We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal … We need some urgency” didn’t seem very surreptitious to me.

But Kobe doesn’t have to say anything anymore. It’s obvious.

It’s about Dwight Howard for the Lakers now. We’ll see if he responds differently in Charlotte on Friday. And in Miami on Sunday. Lose those two and the Lakers are back to six games below .500 and…

Well, we don’t need to say that, either, it’s obvious, too.

  1. captainwisdom8888 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    They gotta lay this sh** to rest

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:59 AM

      Lakers should shut up and stop giving the reporters stuff to write.

      • progress2011 - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        Where do all the FAKER fans disappear to …….ahahahahahahah

        Fake MJ had ZERO as in nada, nadir, nil, zip………assists !

        Dude dominates the ball 6 out of 10 possessions and you can’t get ONE ASSIST !!!

        Then he has the audacity to tell ANYBODY they need to step up …..ahahahahahaha

        ZERO FUNDAMENTALS…..he has no discipline to play FUNDAMENTAL basketball !!!

        He is a Harlem Globetrotter …..AT BEST !!!

  2. magicbucs - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Howard wants out already lol

    • 00maltliquor - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:39 AM

      Yup. Pretty much.

  3. soundsofsuccess7 - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    trade him, he doesn’t want to be here and is doing any good.

    wasted space.

    • florida727 - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      I hate to sound like a “hater” because I’ve got nothing against him, but I’ve always thought he was overrated. Good defender / shot blocker, sure. Atlas-like body, yep. But offensively, he seems to me anyway as being very one dimensional, dunk or nothing. Midrange jump shot is marginal at best. Free throw shooting is a late game liability (think “Hack A Shaq”). I’ll be surprised if he’s in LA next year.

  4. cosanostra71 - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    I have to agree with Kobe that his comments weren’t meant in a mean or insulting way, but he has to remember that Howard’s personality is different than he is used to and that’s how Howard will take it.

    • mckaymatt - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:51 AM

      I don’t think Kobe meant for them to be insulting either, or to throw him under the bus so to say…but I think Kobe may have gotten used to saying whatever he wanted regarding Pau and Pau would just take it more or less…Dwight’s a little more vocal on defending himself and I agree that Kobe might not be used to how to handle Dwight.

      The last time there was a guy like this in LA was Shaq, titles removed we know how that ended. (It obviously wasn’t all Kobe, Shaq did as much to get himself out of LA as Kobe but he definitely didn’t help the matter and Shaq wasn’t afraid to fire back in the media)

  5. philyeagles5 - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    karma dwight. shouldve nvr joined the evil empire.

    • fanofevilempire - Feb 8, 2013 at 7:00 AM

      Hey, I love the Lakers but their is only one Evil Empire.

      • jimeejohnson - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Soviet Union?

  6. bballhistorian - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:53 AM

    The last player to have a similar-type injury + surgery was Larry Johnson (aka Grandmama) in the mid-90s. Remember what happened to his career afterward? He could still play, but his explosiveness was clearly 90% gone.

    Ive said in the beginning of the season that Dwight will never be the same…and this season will be the season everyone will realize that. Deep down, Dwight knows this too, but is trying to “play it down” for the sake of a max contract at the end of the season (per his agent request). Kobe is going to keep expecting Dwight to “suck it up”…but the truth is, his main problem isnt the shoulder….it’s his BACK!

    The bottom line is, Dwight can still play the game, but IS HE A MAX-CONTRACT GUY? Some owners think so, and will take a chance…but will the Lakers?

    • hoodheisman - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:25 AM

      Larry Johnson had numerous back injuries / problems including a ligament tear along his spine which is much worse than Dwight’s injury. More important, LJ never opted for surgery. The comparison to Dwight’s one back injury which was treated by surgery doesn’t hold.

    • aboogy123456 - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Larry Johnson also had actual basketball skills. Dwight without his athleticism? Yikes…

  7. freemantowilliams - Feb 8, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    Dwight’s not going back to LA next year. I’ll put my tax return on that.

  8. BigBeachBall - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Dwight knows kobe only has a few years left… Why try? Kobe looks like hes going to kill somebody…

    • daddyghi - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:05 AM

      good point! if i was dwight, i’ll just sit the whole season down, sign a max contract, play injured again and when koMe’s gone, i’ll get back to my old self and dominate the game…

  9. daddyghi - Feb 8, 2013 at 3:02 AM

    Laker haters are probaby enjoying this drama. im not even a full blow lakers hater right through the bones just like the others but im still enjoying this!

  10. 32magicman - Feb 8, 2013 at 5:17 AM

    Was excited when LA first got Howard but now I don’t know if i can stand watching those free throw bricks for the foreseeable future. Please let Nash give you some coaching so we can get those freebees and stay in games!!

    • 24thesho - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      Shaq may have thrown bricks for free throws but is was still about a 28 and 15 performer and did hit his FTs when it really counted more often than not, from what I remember. Howard is, or perhaps was, more athletic before his injuries but his really has a limited skill set, also, I think lifting those weights may have contributed to his back issues.

  11. hojo20 - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    Howard is a just isn’t a serious player and doesn’t seem to care about winning. The GM that signs him will take a huge risk. A city like Orlando is a better market for him to play in, where’s the spotlight is smaller,

    • lmoneyfresh - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Howard may not have the intensity that Kobe does, but that’s a pretty ridiculous statement. It’s completely obvious that he’s just beat up/injured. He played because he’s getting dogged for trying to get healthy and look what happened. He knows he can’t be effective right now and last night just proved why he’s been sitting out.

  12. paulhargis53 - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:45 AM

    The lakers f-ing stink!!

    The Celtics dominated. Missing Sully and Rondo. What a satisfying victory.

  13. Reggie's Bush - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:57 AM

    Surreptitious

    Good word Kobe

  14. aboogy123456 - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Thanks Dwight for trashing all laker fans with your play last night. I’m a lakers fan and I know he’s going to resign but I don’t want him to. Watch the game again, Dwight wasn’t trying on offense or defense, and he positioned himself in a way so there’s no way he could get the ball. Injury is not an excuse, he’s been injured recently and tried much harder than this. He’s the worst teammate and it was just his way of being passive aggressive because he’s a baby. I mean he took two shots beyond the free throw line, when I saw that I knew he gave up on his team.

  15. loungefly74 - Feb 8, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    what is D’Antoni doing about this? He is the coach. The guy has no control over the team. How wrong was I to think he would do something with THIS squad.

    • 00maltliquor - Feb 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      You ain’t alone on that one….guilty too.

  16. mazblast - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    KoMe is unhappy. And when KoMe is unhappy, all the hotel clerks in the world, beware!

  17. omniusprime - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    This is your Lakers team without Pau Gasol, look at the total lack of pride playing the Laker’s biggest NBA rival last night. The reason is the lack of proper coaching, just look what Doc Rivers got out of his depleted Celtics squad. If the Lakers had a coach with a clue we Laker fans would be enjoying the season knowing the Lakers would be doing well in the playoffs.

    This is your Laker team on Dumbtoni’s worthless small ball system. Just look how pathetic the Lakers look playing small ball. Just look how pathetic the Lakers play for Dumbtoni. The little idiot buss boy is getting his karma’s just desserts for being such a total moron.

    Geez moron sports pundits taking what Kobe said and twisting it to start a fight between him and Dwight Howard, You Betcha! Sports pundits are the scum of humanity and they’re like a bunch of little gossip girls trying to make much ado about nothing. The world would be much better off without sports pundits and their ignorant blog posts.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash!!! Trade Steve Flake!!! Get Well Soon Pau!!!

  18. j0esixpack - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Funny how silent bozosforall/lakerluver has been…

    First he learns that Kobe and Belichick are good buddies… then a depleted Celtics team given up for dead a week ago buries the Lakers in a laugher.

    Can things go worse for that clown of a fan?

  19. bucs24 - Feb 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Trade Howard your going to look stupid in July when he tells the lakers to pack sand

  20. bucs24 - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    I’m a laker fan, never like Kobe but 17 years in the league and he’s one tough SOB D12 quit being a P&@”$ and play like u want to win than after the hopefully playoffs pack your bags and leave

    • lmoneyfresh - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      I’m really entirely sure what you just said, but I do know it was pretty stupid.

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 8, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        He’s saying he’s a Lakers fan, but he doesn’t care that much for Kobe. That said, Kobe has 17 years in the NBA and has proven he is a tough son of a gun. Dwight should stop playing like a little girl and make it look like you want to win. Even if the Lakers do make the playoffs, he hopes Dwight signs somewhere else.

      • lmoneyfresh - Feb 8, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        I appreciate the translation haha. With that said though, I don’t think DH is playing like a little girl. He’s hurt and he’s playing like it. If you’re in pain and that’s what’s in the front of your mind then ya you’re not going to play well. He played last night because he was getting killed by the media/fans brought about by Kobe’s comments. In the end having him out on the court at 50% or whatever he is doesn’t help the team and Kobe pulling his alpha-male “leader” act through the media isn’t helping at all.

  21. bougin89 - Feb 8, 2013 at 10:35 AM

    You can be a very good offensive player as a big man without getting low post touches and scoring with your back to the basket. Howard has always been a good pick n roll big and a great offensive rebounder. The Lakers dump the ball down to him enough for him to go to work but when they dump it down to him they stand and watch him, there is no movement, this isn’t what made Howard great. That being said the much bigger issue is Dwight’s clear lack of effort. Offensive rebounding is about effort and Howard just hasn’t been getting after it like he used to. Defensively it’s the same, he’s not nearly as active and maybe it’s injury related but it sure seems like its at least 50% related to effort.

    • cmehustle - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      Whats funny is you could not tell a Laker fan nothing before the season started. Oh Howard is so much better than Bynum, oh the Lakers are gonna win 82 games. Why would the Magic trade Howard for Brook Lopez? Everybody wants to be a Laker. Foh Howard is a clown, Im glad we kept Lopez, and what no one is talking about even worse the 76ers totally got shafted in this trade. Look at how the center in Orlando is killin it and he’s only 20.

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 8, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        Howard is having a better season than Bynum.

  22. thomaskouns - Feb 8, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Nothing is ever Kobe’s fault. What a leader…

    All that talking about his teammates shortcomings in the press has really elevated the team’s play.

    Sometimes I just wonder if Kobe does this just to protect his brand as the ‘super-alpha male’ of the NBA and deflect attention from his own shortcomings.

  23. anythingbutyanks - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Howard will never win a championship unless he is dragged along by someone who cares way more than he does. He doesn’t deserve a max contract because he can’t be the centerpiece of a team. If he fully recovers from his injuries he is a great second option and a leader on defense, if he plays like he is now then he is a third or forth option and needs to be paid like it. Problem is, players who could make a champion out of him- those with the drive to win (MJ, Kobe and the like)- have little tolerance for people like Howard how have the drive only to be rich and popular.

  24. aboogy123456 - Feb 8, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Nobody’s talking about this in the comments but why is it not clear to every one that Howard completely gave up on his team? If you watch the tape you can see he went out of his way to get in positiion NOT to get the ball. And he shot two jumpshots beyond the free throw line. He is the one to blame here, he completely let his team down last night.

  25. emosnar - Feb 8, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Bottom line is he is someone you do not want on your team.

    No heart
    No Fight in his game(When was the last time you seen Howard dive on the floor, show some real emotion in a game.
    Too playful- no killer instinct on the court, wants to be every ones buddy
    Too Sensitive
    Too indecisive
    Too ditzy
    Game is too inconsistent – does not dominate nothing
    Can’t make free throw and therefore can’t be relied upon in the 4th when it counts

    Its crazy because Bynum will be back and he is none of the above and will show he is a franshise player. Bynum wanted the ball and to be the man just like Howard, at least one would have been tougher on the court.

    If you are injured then sit but if you play…PLAY.

    PS: Earl Clark is better than Dwight Howard.

    Future is looking Dim for the Lake Show – Mitch please work your magic (Without Magic (train wreck advice)

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