The Los Angeles Lakers have lost three in a row, including a 37-point blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, but the players aren't giving up on the year.
"You can't stop believing that you're gonna win and just say, 'Ah, f--- it, let's give up,'" Howard told reporters after the game. "We know we've put ourselves in a pretty tough predicament, but all it takes is a couple games and some good energy and some positivity, so just got to stay as positive as we can."
This comes after harsh criticism from Lakers legend Magic Johnson regarding the team's effort:
Earvin Magic Johnson @MagicJohnson
After being blown out by the Nuggets 133-96, we as <a href="https://twitter.com/Lakers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lakers</a> fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency. Owner <a href="https://twitter.com/JeanieBuss?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JeanieBuss</a>, you deserve better.
With a 21-22 record on the season, the Lakers currently sit seventh in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles also ended last season as the No. 7 seed, winning the play-in game before losing in the first round to the Phoenix Suns.
There were higher expectations in 2021-22 after mostly overhauling the roster in the offseason. The team kept stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis while adding Russell Westbrook and proven veterans like Howard, Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan.
With younger contributors like Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker also in the rotation, there appeared to be enough to get the squad back to title contention.
Injuries have been a problem, with James and Davis each missing over 10 games so far, but the squad has still struggled with an offense that ranks 24th in the NBA in efficiency while ranking 20th in defensive efficiency.