The Lakers have set off on a three game road trip this week. After taking sole possession of the eighth and final seed in the West from Utah on Sunday, the Lakers are now once again tied with Utah for that eighth spot (Jazz hold tiebreaker). In other words, the Lakers cannot afford any hiccups, especially on the road.
The Lakers’ first stop is Orlando, Dwight Howard’s old stomping grounds. After nearly two seasons of the “Dwightmare” and some misconstrued comments by the big man, Orlando fans aren’t too thrilled with the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Former teammate, Jameer Nelson, had some harsh words for Dwight recently, and anticipates a emotional, exciting game tonight against Dwight and the Lakers.
Obviously, the atmosphere is going to be probably a little turned-up, a little crazier than what we have so far this year,” Nelson said after the Magic finished practice minutes ago. “Hopefully, we can, as a team, come out and play our game and do what we need to do to try to be successful.”
Nelson added Magic rookies can expect a “playoff atmosphere.”
Dwight Howard recently sat down with USA Today’s Sam Amick for an interview, where he cleared up any misunderstandings of what he said about his former teammates. Nelson was asked by the Orlando Sentinel about this interview, in which he responded:
“What’s said is said, and what happened is over and done with,” Nelson said. “I’m just here trying to look forward and not trying to dwell on the past. The decision was made and things happen, so it’s not like anybody could take them back or anything like that. And me personally, I’m not mad at him for doing what he did. I don’t know. Could things have been done differently? Yeah. But they weren’t. So, me as a person, I just have to move on and try to continue to be successful and do the things I need to do to help the team get back in the position we used to be in.”
The Lakers are in the playoff picture now as they have been playing much improved ball. Back in December, the Lakers let the Magic play off emotions and take advantage, where they left Los Angeles with a victory. The Lakers have shown that they are choosing to fight through adversity instead of quitting when their backs are against the wall. The games against New Orleans and Toronto are prime examples of this.
As stated before, the Lakers can’t afford mistakes, and must find a way to counter Orlando’s emotions and stick with their game plan. Let’s hope Dwight’s return to Orlando is a success and not a repeat of their match in December.
VIDEO: Lakers Nation chats with USA Today’s Sam Amick about his one-on-one interview with Dwight Howard