Photo Credit: Espn.go.com
Photo Credit: Espn.go.com

Who would have thought we’d be talking about chemistry outside of a science laboratory and relating it to Laker basketball?  Well, that’s where we find ourselves today.  With The Lakers’ struggles at such a critical point and no end in sight, fans and players alike are desperately searching for answers.  Dwight Howard seems to have an answer to these struggles: Chemistry.  No. not the chemistry with chemicals and different solutions, but the chemistry of communication, teamwork, and respect for one another out on the court.  Howard had this to say regarding team chemistry:

“(Chemistry is) 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.”

I think this speaks volumes for how The Lakers have played thus far.  With Howard and Nash being added in the off-season, veteran Lakers needed to learn how to play with the new guys. These things take time to work and figure out, which is why the Lakers are yet to play some solid, winning basketball.  Howard also believes the Clippers have a great bond and a functioning chemistry, and had this to say regarding that chemistry:

“Those guys on the Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows.”

This was made right after The Clippers game on January 4th.  When the All-Star Center is complementing the other team on their chemistry following a loss, that clearly reveals a problem with chemistry for The Lakers.  During the game, Lakers backup Center Jordan Hill went down with an ankle injury, and while he was writhing on the ground, not a single Laker came over to make sure he was alright.

Chemistry problem.

If they don’t even care enough to make sure a guy is okay, then they clearly don’t care about him much outside of the locker room.  However, Coach D’Antoni didn’t believe that snub was intentional:

“I think it was a lapse. I don’t think it was meant,” D’Antoni said of the team’s lack of a reaction to Hill’s injury. “It’s something we addressed and talked about.

Well, coach doesn’t think that was an intentional act, and perhaps it wasn’t, perhaps it was just a momentary lapse where other players were caught up in the moment of the game and they didn’t think to check on the injured Hill.  I can believe this as easily as I can believe they did it intentionally. The Lakers aren’t in a good place right now and they have a lot bigger problems to deal with than whether or not they checked on an injured player.

D’Antoni later commented on The Lakers’ chemistry:

“I don’t know if it’s because of a lack of training camp, or a lack of Steve being with us from the beginning, but the relationship between Steve and Dwight’s got to get a lot better,” D’Antoni said. “It’s not creating the easy shots that we need.”

Clearly the chemistry between Nash and Howard isn’t where it needs to be in order to work in a D’Antoni offense.  Once Howard returns from his shoulder injury and is able to get more time working with Nash, their chemistry will likely improve. However, that will not fix everything by any means.  D’Antoni also commented on liking each other outside the locker room:

“I don’t think you have to love each other. But you have to respect each other with what they do on the court.”

This quote from coach D’Antoni stands out.  The players don’t have to be best friends off the court, but they must respect each other in order to have a successful basketball team.  Once the Lakers get more accustomed to one another and become better friends, they will begin to play better, winning basketball.  The Lakers current chemistry is nothing to be proud of, and hopefully will improve with time… because it’s chemistry that will ultimately lead the Lakers to victory.

(More about The Lakers chemistry can be read here)