You think being old and slow is the reason these guys aren't getting back on defense? It's more a result of them caring more about playing the blame game than being there for each other.
That's why Bryant and Howard sniped at each other about defensive rotations in New Orleans. And it's why Howard and Steve Nash traded what-were-you-thinking looks in Denver after JaVale McGee blew past them for a dunk.
Calling each other out in the hope of getting better is one thing. These guys have the look of teammates who genuinely don't much like each other.
D'Antoni has not exactly played peacemaker beyond a get-to-know-you dinner with Pau Gasol that did little to soothe the heartburn the power forward has experienced from being kept so far from the basket during games.
The team needed another airing-out session Saturday after Gasol disappeared against the Clippers on Friday. D'Antoni said promises were made to use Gasol more as a facilitator and put him in preferred spots on the court.
It helped for all of one half. After scoring 11 points in the first half, Gasol went scoreless in the final two quarters before his night ended with a McGee elbow to the nose.
Reserve Antawn Jamison also continued to be a nonentity, after he complained about D'Antoni's failure to talk to him about why he wasn't playing.
Jamison played four minutes Sunday, making one of two shots before finding his way back onto the bench.
When asked before the game about whether opening a dialogue with D'Antoni about his situation had helped, Jamison said, “Ask him. Not on my end. Nope.”
If admitting you have a problem is the first step, at least Howard is on the right track.
“We have to chip away at it,” Howard said. “It's not something that happens overnight.”
It's something that may never be resolved if D'Antoni continues to sleep on the issue.