After dropping a 113-103 contest on their home floor to the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers now sit at 8-9, in third place in a Pacific Division they’ve topped for five straight seasons, and in the uncomfortable position of not knowing quite how to fix what ails them. Injured star point guard Steve Nash is reportedly still 10 to 14 days away from returning to the fold, the relative age and size of Pau Gasol’s pants is a matter of some debate, and Kobe Bryant is seemingly ready to start punching and kicking literally everyone, an approach to problem-solving that seems dubious, at best.
There’s still plenty of time, of course, for Mike D’Antoni’s crew to figure things out and for the Lakers to work themselves into the kind of inside-out/outside-in/everywhere-at-once offensive marvel that nobody wants to play come late spring; with the eventual reintegration of Nash into the lineup and better health and general comportment from (or, failing that, perhaps the trade of ) Gasol, it seems a more reasonable bet that the Lakers will end the season having won more than half their games than that they’ll finish up south of .500. Still, though, the Lakers went from a team that many ( including us ) expected to work as a no-doubt title favorite to a team whose championship chances — both now and going forward, considering the advancing ages of Bryant, Nash and Gasol — seem a bit shaky, to say the least.
This doesn’t sound quite like what Dwight Howard signed up for when — at the end of a long, messy and very public divorce with the Magic that he later attributed to wanting everybody to love him — he made his way west in search of fame, fortune and, above all else, titles. And Howard — who’s still set to hit free agency this summer — apparently intimated as much during a recent conversation with John Denton of the Magic’s official website (emphasis mine):
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