The coach has done the math, but can he solve the problem? His insistence on playing fast and small with a roster that includes Howard and Gasol is like casting Nathan Lane and John Goodman in a swimsuit video. A system incapable of thriving in December and January will be shelved in May and June because, at this rate, the Lakers won't be playing.
For those who continue to tout the injury excuse, this stat says it all: The Lakers are 4-10 in games in which Bryant, Howard, Gasol and Steve Nash have all played. They are 14-15 in games in which one or more of them has sat out.
Neither winning percentage is going to get them a sniff of the postseason.
Howard was in an uncharacteristically serious mood before the game against Utah, tuning out reporters while he listened to music through earbuds at his locker.
The Lakers were in harmony for stretches, Bryant collecting more assists (14) than shots (10) and Howard and Gasol actually logging some quality minutes together to combat a Jazz lineup heavy on big men.
"We have to play together, we have to play for each other," said Howard, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. "That's the only way we're going to win."
They're going to have to hit the repeat button on their effort against the Jazz for that to happen.
"At this point, it's not about showing that we've turned the corner, it's about doing it," Bryant said. "We've got to put together a string of pretty good games."
If Friday was a start, the Lakers can only hope it's not on the road to nowhere.