Can L.A. Lakers Finally Build Some Lasting Momentum?

With the Los Angeles Lakers finally putting together a stretch in which they look like a cohesive unit, it's time to look at what they have in store for us over the next few weeks to see if they can build some momentum.

The Lakers have won their first two games following the All-Star break—over the Boston Celtics and the Portland Trail Blazers—and have gone 10-4 since Jan. 23, if you can believe it.

While their win over the Trail Blazers was suspect (something about shooting 34 free throws to Portland's 12), there's no reason to discount these two wins, especially with the way their two best players have handled themselves.

Kobe Bryant alternated old-Kobe mode with new-Kobe mode, scoring 16 against Boston and 40 against the Trail Blazers, while Dwight Howard had two solid games, averaging more than 21 points and 14 rebounds.

In the most important thing that's happened since the All-Star break, Howard has finally started to take some accountability for the way he's been playing this season, admitting to ESPN that he can do better:

You've got to have energy and I want to bring that energy every night. That's my job. They count on me to be that guy. I just know how much more effective I will be when I'm in better shape. And, unfortunately, it's cost us a lot of games. ...

I knew that would be a process. The better shape I'm in, the more active I can be and the more I'm able to do on the floor. But it was a struggle at first because I just didn't have it in the tank, especially on defense.

That will be key in any kind of run the Lakers may or may not have in them. It's not enough to look at the team and admit that they haven't done enough collectively; they have to realize their individual faults.

While dwelling on what has ailed them in the past may seem counterproductive, it's a terrific way to have some accountability at last.

If we're going to assume tha...

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