Get serious: Fun-loving Dwight Howard is not the Lakers' problem

Despite what some Lakers old-timers might say, Dwight Howard's penchant for enjoying himself doesn't diminish his intensity on the court.

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Dwight Howard stood in the Lakers' locker room before the Miami game with an arm around his girlfriend.

"Judy," he said, while introducing her to everyone.

That's Judy, as in his imaginary girlfriend, as in take that, Robert Horry.

Now how can you not love a lighthearted soul, who saves his intensity for the court and believes anyone as lucky as he is to be paid playing a game, should smile all the time?

Enough already with the stuffed legends, the ex-Lakers prattling on and on about how things should be done just like they did them.

"You want a guy to be more focused," Horry said of Howard. "That's the kind of guy you want, someone who's focused, not fun-loving."

The Lakers already have that in Kobe Bryant.

But later this from Shaq at halftime on TNT about Howard: "Robert Horry is absolutely correct."

Who are they watching?

Howard is a surgically repaired work in progress, but he's beginning to become a force again. He doesn't return from back surgery as fast as he has if he's only clowning around.

And he doesn't dominate if his teammates don't get him the ball, re: the second half against the Heat in a nine-point defeat.

Shaq was as big a kid as Howard at times and knows all about not getting the ball. And though Shaq maintained on TNT he was a tough so-and-so on the court, a smile doesn't diminish the intensity that Howard is trying to bring to the court while still recovering from back surgery.

Howard threw his body at the Heat Thursday night. He was a lot more active than Shaq was on many nights, and he took a beating.

He had the Lakers ahead by a point at the half on the strength of 10 points and eight rebounds, buying time for Kobe, who would go three for 16 through three quarters.

Kobe went nuts in the fourth quarter while Howard seemed to disappear. Howard also failed to make his free throws in the end, but it wasn't because he was listening to Rihanna sing "Diamonds" before the game or asking his imaginary girlfriend to follow him so he might save her from Vic the Brick.

Howard, like an enthusiastic Matt Kemp trying to pump up his teammates before Doodger games, has lightened the mood around here.

When was the last time it looked like the Lakers were enjoying themselves?

Before the Milwaukee game Howard told a male reporter he looked like he was seven months along, and before the Cleveland game he argued basketball players were tougher than professional football players.

As "unfocused" as he might have seemed, he averaged 26.5 points and 15 rebounds in those two games.

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