Dwight Howard criticizes Lakers' lack of chemistry

In the aftermath of his complimenting the chemistry of the crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers following a 107-102 loss to the Clippers Friday night, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard criticized his own team's lack of chemistry following Saturday's practice.

"(Chemistry is) something we have to do to get better," Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "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.

"It really starts off the court. I think you have to have that relationship and that chemistry off the court for it to really blossom on the court. It takes time to develop that. You just don't come together and then expect to be best friends right away. It just doesn't happen like that."

After Friday night's loss, Howard lauded the Clippers' chemistry, saying, "Those guys on the Clippers team, they really enjoy each other off the court and it shows."

Howard's comments came after Lakers forward Jordan Hill injured his ankle on a play, but none of his teammates came over to see how he was doing or to help him to his feet.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni downplayed Howard's comments after Saturday's practice.

"I think it was a lapse. I don't think it was meant," D'Antoni said of no Lakers helping Hill or checking on him. "It's something we addressed and talked about.

"I don't know if anybody has the formula for making the chemistry right. But I know if everyone takes personal responsibility and plays hard, it will work itself out. It's amazing how you quit talking and pointing and rationalizing and playing as hard as you can play; we'll be fine"

But for as much as D'Antoni downplayed the incident with Hill, he continued on the chemistry issue with the Lakers, adding that the team just needs more time together, particularly with newcomers this season in Howard and Steve Nash.

"We need to play hard," he said. "We need to take accountability, each one of us. 'What's in it for me?' We need to get that out of our vocabulary and wonder what's best for the Lakers."

When asked about the chemistry specifically between Howard and Nash, particularly on picks and rolls, D'Antoni conceded it's "not there yet."

"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."

As for Howard's comment about the Clippers being close off the court, D'Antoni didn't see that as being completely necessary.

"I don't know. I played on a lot of teams and I never really hung out with guys all the time," D'Antoni said. "I don't think you have to love each other. But you have to respect each other with what they do on the court."