Lakers a mess: Report that Howard restrained from going after Kobe after being called soft

Another day, another drama in Lala land. The Lakers are in a free fall, losing to the Nuggets at home last night, and dropping to 15-18 on the season. However it was apparently a loss to the Sixers last week that prompted Kobe Bryant to call Dwight Howard soft, which nearly led the two to blows. From the New York Daily News. 

A league source told the Daily News that the Lakers stars got into a heated exchange following a New Year’s Day loss to the 76ers, and Bryant went for a low blow – referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O’Neal’s criticisms of Howard being soft.

Howard was restrained from going at his teammate, according to the source, and there have been rumblings from the center’s camp that he’s been unhappy with Bryant since earlier in the season

So if this report is true, we have Kobe siding with the big man he ran out of town eight and a half years ago (Shaq) to rip the big man he's going to run out of town in six months? Awesome.

It's important to note that the Lakers are denying this ever happened, and it is very strange that this would happen on January 1st and not be reported until six days later. However there is no doubt that the mix is just not working at this point in Los Angeles.

When asked about the Lakers chemistry compared to their Clipper counterparts, Howard had this to say.

Look at the difference between our team and (the Clippers). They just play together. They share the ball. Everybody’s excited when something happens.

(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.

That doesn't seem like a quote from someone who's particularly happy with his new home. And he's not the only one unhappy with the arrangement, Kobe was so fed up that he apparently created a twitter, just to talk about the doubt that his crept into his mind.

In Kobe's defense he is having a monster year. Players just do not average 30.5 points a game in their 17th season while shooting a career high field goal percentage. But despite Bryant's best efforts, the experiment is failing miserably. A lack of leadership, chemistry, and youth has put the Lakers in a position where they'll have to scramble just to make the playoffs, never mind make a serious run at the Clippers for the Pacific.

The fans have noticed as well, apparently chanting "We Want Phil! (link)" late in last night's loss (Note: How hilarious would it be to have the Lakers crawl back to Phil after the failed D'Antoni run? What would he ask for? 75 million a year?). Things really appear to be crumbling out there.

I guess when you put together a team where four of your five starters are over the age of 33, the fifth is coming off major back surgery, and your bench consists of Jordan Hill and Chris Duhon - this shouldn't be a shock. But when your payroll cracks the $100 million mark, people want answers. And right now the Lakers have none.

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(Editors Note: CelticsLife's EK found an exclusive picture of the Bean-Howard altercation - Mike S.)