About ten days ago, head coach Mike D’Antoni indicated that the rest of the league had gotten in wrong when they began playing games in November.
He told reporters that the Los Angeles Lakers season would start that Sunday. At that point, the Lakers were 15-21. Since then, they’ve gone a measly 2-3, digging themselves in to an even bigger hole. This afternoon Dwight Howard came out and said that tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies would mark the start of a new season. Of course, that’s not all he had to say.
In reference to his earlier complaints regarding shot attempts, this is what he told Dave McMenamin of ESPNLA:
That was immature. I shouldn’t have done it, but today is a new day and today is a new game… I’ve been immature in the past in thinking that it’s all about shots because that’s what people want to see. They talk about points and how many times you score and all this stuff, but for me, it’s not even about scoring. It’s just about dominating and that’s bigger than just scoring points.
What Howard is saying sounds great, but it’s become challenging to take his word for it when fans have repeatedly heard the same excuses from multiple members of the team. However, the Lakers are at a breaking point and they know it.
Even if they were to pick it up at this point, they’d have to damn near elite to be guaranteed a play-off slot. Not to mention, the problems in Los Angeles lie deeper than the team’s effort. Considering how broken they looked just two nights ago, it’s hard to believe their chemistry will find itself simply through a Dwight Howard epiphany.
I think it’s a little bit different now. I just think it will be different. Our mentality might be a little bit different… I have to be more. I have to do more for this team. There are a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I have to step up and take it. It has to be me. It has to start with me. I’m a guy that has to dominate for us to win. We’re not going to win unless I dominate.
This attitude seems to be in line with what Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak, had to say regarding the effort, or lack thereof, that the Lakers and more specifically Dwight Howard, have been displaying. Unfortunately, it may not be in line with what Kobe Bryant thinks is best for the team. As everyone and their mother knows, Kobe Bryant wants to be the “man”.
The Staples Center has been his playhouse since he forced Shaq to pack his bags for Miami and he hasn’t shown any indication that he’s willing to take the back-seat.
Here’s the thing: Kobe and Dwight can dabble over the number one role for as long as they want as long as the Lakers fix their other issues. They’re still too talented to remain as horrible as they are right now. The problem is that regardless of whether the season started two weeks ago or today for the franchise, the real NBA season started in November. Dawning a dismal 17-24 record, the Lakers would have to go 28-13 in the last 41 games of the season in order to end the season with 45 wins, a total that would probably squeeze them in to the post-season at the 7th or 8th spot. A 28-13 run would mark a 68% winning percentage.
To put that into perspective, that’s the winning percentage the East-leading Miami Heat are at right now. Dwight Howard may be serious about what he’s saying, but for the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers, it may be too little, too late.