The Los Angeles Lakers' poor on-court chemistry is apparently spilling over into the locker room for examination.
That's the word from Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Bresnahan, who broke the news that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard "went at each other" in a closed-door, air-it-out meeting to try to fix some of the team's problems unrelated to X's and O's.
Here's an excerpt of the reported altercation, per Bresnahan's report:
They held a clear-the-air team meeting before Wednesday morning's shoot-around, with Kobe Bryant very directly asking Dwight Howard if he disliked playing with the long-time Lakers star.
Bryant spoke up, acknowledging he could be "hard to play with" and asking Howard if that bothered him. Howard's answer was unclear, though he did not engage Bryant in nearly as vocal a manner as Bryant engaged him.
The dysfunction isn't surprising when looking at the Lakers' 17-24 record in relation to the kind of All-NBA talent that currently graces the roster.
After Monday night's 95-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls, Bryant and Howard were both quoted in different publications as saying that they were unhappy with offensive touches and the way things have been going in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense.
D'Antoni, unhappy with the syndicated reports claiming certain players were raising questions, started the meeting by saying (via Bresnahan) "he was tired of reading newspaper stories about players questioning his offense or wanting more touches," and the team needs to "stop worrying about offense and start playing better defense."
That led to other players speaking up, and Bryant apparently thought this was the best forum to have it out with Howard about who the true offensive star of this team is.
It isn't the first time the two have reportedly gone at each other. In February 2012, it was reported (h/t Pro Basketball Talk) that Bryant turned Howard off to the idea of the Lakers because he wanted Howard to be the team's "Tyson Chandler."
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Howard wasn't happy about being "third fiddle" in L.A., but the two parties involved later refuted the report (via Sporting News).
Kobe later tweeted out a photo mocking the report, claiming the two were fine.
This won't do anything to quell rumors of a potential Howard trade. Kobe isn't going anywhere, but Howard continues to turn off fans, and possibly Lakers management, with his me-first attitude toward winning games.
Just when you think things can't get worse in L.A., news like this breaks. The Lakers have no choice but to regroup quickly, as they have a Wednesday-night showdown against the Memphis Grizzlies to prove this meeting was productive, not destructive.
UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 24, at 12:39 p.m. ET by Bennett Spector
The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 106-93. Bryant scored 29 points in the loss while Howard scored just 2 in 14 minutes, reaggravating his shoulder injury in the process. The Lakers have now lost 4 consecutive games.
--End of update---