In the aftermath of the L.A. Lakers’ five-point loss to the Clippers Friday night, Lakers center Dwight Howard criticized his own team’s lack of chemistry following Saturday’s practice.
“(Chemistry is) something we have to do to get better,” Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don’t want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table.
“It really starts off the court. I think you have to have that relationship and that chemistry off the court for it to really blossom on the court. It takes time to develop that. You just don’t come together and then expect to be best friends right away. It just doesn’t happen like that.”
Howard lauded the Clippers’ chemistry, saying, “Those guys on the Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows.”
Howard’s comments came after Lakers forward Jordan Hill injured his ankle on a play, but none of his teammates came over to see how he was doing or to help him to his feet. Howard’s claim seems to be a little bit off the mark — much like his free throws — because when Hill went down with an ankle injury he was helped up by Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest. Once Hill was up he tried to walk it off on his own. Maybe that’s what Howard saw.
Nonetheless, Howard makes a good point in that the Lakers need to improve their communication on and off the court. But building team chemistry takes time, and right now the Lakers look like a team that was just put together this offseason and head coach Mike D’Antoni has yet to figure out how to fit all the pieces into his system. Steve Nash is still figuring out where he fits in the offense even though he’s the point guard. Pau Gasol is completely lost in D’Antoni’s small-ball concept, and the Lakers’ bench is one of the worst in the league.
The Lakers’ lack of chemistry is only part of the problem. It is a team without an identity and the parts simply don’t fit. D’Antoni is trying to implement a high-powered offense using second-hand parts. It’s like driving in a 1997 Honda Civic while trying to win the Daytona 500.