Dwight Howard has questioned the struggling Lakers' team chemistry. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard got into a heated exchange, that included Howard being restrained, following the Lakers' loss to the 76ers on New Year's Day, a league source reportedly told the New York Daily News.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweeted a denial from Lakers sources Sunday night.
According to the Daily News, the catalyst for the incident was Bryant referencing and agreeing with Shaquille O'Neal's recent criticisms of Howard playing soft.
Howard, who's openly disagreed with Bryant in his first season with the Lakers, later complained about the team's lack of chemistry -- a comment seemingly directed at Bryant, who is averaging an NBA-high 22 shots while playing in a lineup with three potential Hall of Fame players.
“Look at the difference between our team and (the Clippers),” Howard said. “They just play together. They share the ball. Everybody’s excited when something happens.”
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times writes that coach Mike D'Antoni, who was brought in to right the Lakers after a league-worst start under Mike Brown, appears to be oblivious to the openly angry glances and on-court gestures of his dysfunctional team.
"I understand it a little bit," D'Antoni said of his team's chemistry concerns before things worsened with a 112-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, "but everybody has a job to do. The only thing we can ask players is to play as hard as they can. Whether you're happy or not doesn't really matter if you are playing as hard as you can.
"You don't have to love each other," he said. "I've been on a lot of championship teams in Europe where there's edges and we don't go out to dinner every night. That is not why we're losing. We're losing right now because we don't have a consistent 48 minutes of good basketball."
Howard grabbed 26 rebounds and Bryant scored 29 points -- 18 points in a fourth-quarter rally -- while taking 26 shots in the loss to the Nuggets that dropped the Lakers to 15-18.