NEW ORLEANS — For far too long, Dwight Howard felt alone without any support.
Time and time again, Howard spoke about the need for teammates to communicate and cover for each other on defense. And time and time again, the same mistakes persisted. Particularly from Kobe Bryant.
So Howard took matters into his own hands and visibly voiced his displeasure about it to Bryant’s face. Another coming of a Lakers dominant center feuding with the Black Mamba? They don’t think so. In fact, both players pointed that as a necessary part of their growth as the Lakers marched toward a 113-87 victory Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets.
“I don’t have a problem with saying anything to anybody, and it should be that way,” Howard said. “We have to be able to talk to each other. We’re a team. We’re a family. And the more chemistry we develop that way, the better we’ll be as a team.”
Howard had plenty to say.
He appeared upset early in the first quarter after rotating over to stop Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez, while Bryant failed to slide over and mark Howard’s man, New Orleans center Robin Lopez. Moments later, Vasquez drove past Lakers guard Chris Duhon, prompting Howard to shift over. Once again, Bryant left Lopez alone in the paint while staying near the perimeter to mark Roger Mason Jr. After Howard yelled at Bryant about it, Bryant exchanged words right back.
Later in the half, Bryant sat next to Howard during a timeout. Bryant then called some plays for Howard in the post. Bryant also improved sliding over on help defense.
“That’s just how I lead,” Bryant said. “It’s no different. I was that way when I was 18 and I’m the same way. That’s how I lead. That’s what I’ve found to be successful, at least for me, in my style of leadership in winning championships. That’s just how it’s going to be.”
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