Dwight Howard Accepting Accountability Key to L.A. Lakers’ Fading Title Dream

In the days following the memorial service for Dr. Jerry Buss, Dwight Howard seems like a different man than the one who made the 2,500-mile journey out to Los Angeles last August. Six months after leaving Orlando, he realizes that he's the key to sorting out the mess surrounding the Lakers this season:

Howard never really got to know Dr. Buss. When the 6'11" center was traded from the Orlando Magic last summer, the former Los Angeles Lakers owner was already in fading health.

Howard did, however, have a chance to pay Buss a visit in the hospital late last year and he made it a point to tell Buss that he was grateful for the opportunity to play for the Lakers.

The Lakers have played twice since the passing of Dr. Buss and Howard scored at least 19 points and grabbed at least 12 rebounds in both contests. While two games isn't nearly enough to make a definitive judgment, it seems as if something has changed recently in Howard's overall approach to the game. The man who has spent most of this season sulking and clowning around now appears to be ready to step up to the plate.

"I'm going to continue look at [Dr. Buss] and guys who did something special like that," said Howard in an interview with Ramona Shelbourne of ESPNLosAngeles. "It's all about winning."

For once, perhaps Howard and team captain Kobe Bryant are finally on the same page. In a pregame ceremony prior to the Lakers' 113-99 win over the Boston Celtics on Feb. 20, Bryant made similar comments when he took the microphone to talk about what Buss meant to the Lakers' organization.

"His vision has transcended the game and we are all, all, spoiled by his vision and by his drive to win year after year after year," Bryant said.

Winning is all the Lakers have been about in recent memory. During the 33 years in which Buss actively ran the team, L.A. made the NBA Finals 16 times and brought home 10 titles.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers