As the Los Angeles Lakers continue to fight against themselves to surge above .500, it seems as if they're steadily developing chemistry, despite the clashing styles of play that come at almost every roster spot.
The Lakers sit heavy at 15-17—wins are coming in spurts, as are the losses. There are a lot of personalities and styles to blend together, and it's taking a lot more time than was expected for the team to come together.
Dwight Howard talked about the team's chemistry in comparison to their crosstown rivals after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers: "Those guys on the Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows." And his opinion on how the team should develop that chemistry seems to be very vague, and not at all like he expects the team to be singing Christmas Carols together next winter.
It's something we have to do to get better. 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.
As Steve Nash does his best to contribute to a beautiful, flowing offense, Kobe Bryant continues to cling to the past, dying to play isolation ball as much as possible.
Meanwhile, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are dealing with figuring out who should be supreme in the post, who should work most in the pick-and-roll and just what they should be doing in general.
However, as strange (yet effective) as the offense has been at times, it's impossible to deny that the real problem is the team's defense.
Individually, there aren't a lot of stellar defenders on Los Angeles' roster, and that's going to be a problem for them in the short term.
Kobe Bryant is getting older, and is visibly unable to cover the quicker, younger guards in the league when it really matters. Just take a look at Chris Paul's huge shots over Bryant late in the Lakers' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
He's still strong and physical, and he's able to ratchet up the intensity when the moment calls for it. However, he can't move laterally as well as he used to, and that leads to an increased possibility of getting locked up, or just downright beat.
For the real problem on defense, look no further than Dwight Howard. He's been nowhere near the elite defender of years past, and it's visibly hurting the Lakers.
Rather than blaming individuals, however, it's more pertinent to point one finger at the entire squad.
There's been an inordinate amount of shoulder shrugging, finger pointing and missed assignments on the team, and that all has nothing to do with who is blocking shots or stealing passes.
Their squad just hasn't learned to play together yet defensively. The caveats of each player and tendencies to move left or right or not at all have yet to be ingrained in the other players.
Los Angeles is going to continue to get healthier, learn each other's habits and adjust accordingly, both offensively and defensively.
When that time comes it'll be a formidable team, capable of beating most of the teams in the league. The only problem is that there's no telling just how far off that time is.
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