The Lakers, who’ve lost 9 of their last 11 games, reportedly had a “clear-the-air” team meeting before Wednesday morning’s shoot around in Memphis where “guys went at each other a little bit”, according to a person who witness the meeting.
Coach Mike D’Antoni started it by saying he was tired of reading newspaper stories about players questioning his offense or wanting more touches. Bryant and Howard each fell under that category after the Lakers’ lifeless 95-83 loss Monday in Chicago: Bryant said the offense needed to slow down while Howard expressed displeasure after taking only five shots.
D’Antoni then told the team to stop worrying about offense and start playing better defense. The Lakers are fifth in scoring (102.6 points a game) but 26th in defense (101.4 points a game).
Bryant also 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. “He didn’t go back at Kobe,” said the person who witnessed the meeting. It was not known how long the actual meeting lasted, but the Lakers’ shoot-around went an hour longer than expected.