Is Dwight Howard the LA Lakers Problem or the Solution?

The 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers have had their season defined by two things: not enough wins and too many scapegoats.

First, blame fell on former coach Mike Brown. His ill-conceived Princeton-offense experiment failed and he was shown the door just five games into the season.

Then, blame shifted over to 11-year veteran Pau Gasol. The big man struggled through the first 17 games of the year (12.6 points on 42 percent shooting) before being sidelined by tendinitis in both knees.

Darius Morris and Chris Duhon, two fringe-rotation players thrust into starting spots by a rash of injuries in L.A.'s backcourt, have each shouldered their own share of the blame.

Laker shooters emerged as scapegoats early in the season. Jodie Meeks took a while to rediscover his perimeter stroke (38.8 three-point percentage), while Antawn Jamison's still searching for his (32.0).

Even MVP candidate Kobe Bryant has seen fingers pointed his way. The fluky, oft-cited statistic of the team's performance during 30-plus-point outings from the Black Mamba (1-11) has brought some unwarranted, backhanded blame Bryant's way.

But two players on the roster have been largely kept out of the blame game: Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Nash's Laker career has consisted of all of 50 minutes with the team. He's been sidelined since suffering a leg fracture in the team's second game, but he could be closing in on his return:

New story: Steve Nash plans on returning to practice next week

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 14, 2012  

Howard, meanwhile, has taken some heat for his free-throw struggles (49.2 percent). But he's not yet healthy from the back surgery that prematurely ended his 2011-12 season.

He may not be putting up his typical numbers, but he's doing what he can:

Dwight Howard on critics of his game: "I wasn't even supposed to be playing until Ja...

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