After every Lakers loss, Dwight Howard has repeated that his team needs to stay focused, keep working, and be patient. He spoke to the team about picking each other up and is working to change the team’s chemistry on and off the floor.
Howard is trying to make it work in Los Angeles, and the Lakers are even using social media to make fun of a falsely reported bust up between Howard and teammate Kobe Bryant.
"It takes time," he repeats constantly.
Time is something that the team is beginning to fall short on. As the Lakers approach the season's halfway mark, they are still struggling with a losing record and going the wrong way in terms of results.
To be fair, they have shown some positive signs with regards to offensive growth and late-game defense, but moral victories are meaningless if a team is sitting at home come playoff time.
After Sunday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, Howard talked at length about the time required for a team to come together and build chemistry. So, Triple Threat’s Shahan Ahmed asked Howard whether he still thought the Lakers had enough time to end this season with a championship—something most analysts have already written off.
Howard responded, "I’m not a time keeper."
Then, he preached patience and practice (full video above). He said the team needed to continue working and the fruits of their labor would eventually show up in the wins column. If nothing showed, the heavens had chosen to overlook the Los Angeles Lakers.
Howard’s spiritual post-game chatter continued the religious motif of the day. He discussed the Torah with Vic "The Brick" Jacobs prior to Sunday’s game, wrote a bible verse on his shoes ("Phil 4:13"), and informed a couple members of the media that he offered prayers for all types of people—his enemies, the media, even the members of the Magic organization in Orlando.
Howard’s effort and desire is often criticized, but the Lakers’ center has sacrificed his body all season long. Originally, he was not even expected to play until January 2013, but he worked himself back to being available at the start of the season in late November.
It is difficult to imagine where this team would be if Howard and Nash had both missed the first two months of the season.
On Sunday, Howard pulled down 26 rebounds despite suffering a torn labrum during the game. To provide more insight into his desire to win and play through injury, Howard pulled down 11 crucial fourth-quarter rebounds after aggravating the right shoulder injury. He even blocked two shots down the stretch on a bum shoulder.
"We can’t change who we are," he said.
With that type of effort on and off the court, no one is asking for Howard to change who he is. The team as a whole, though, needs to find a winning identity.
Unfortunately, Howard is not available for the Lakers for both games in Texas, but he is travelling with the team to receive treatment and build chemistry.