Not so new-look Lakers

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,NBA,Jeffrey Tomik

The new-look Lakers have a lot of the same-old problems.

After acquiring center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash in the offseason, Los Angeles went 0-8 in the preseason and are off to an 0-2 start to the regular season. The Lakers lost back-to-back nights to a Dallas Mavericks team without Dirk Nowitzki and a Portland Trail Blazers team that ended the 2011-12 season on a seven-game skid.

With "just" 80 games left in the 2012-13 season, is it time to panic?

Incorporating new players and a new offense takes time. But after two games, the Lakers don't look much different than last year.

Howard was supposed to be a major upgrade from Andrew Bynum. Howard is a six-time All-Star and three-time defensive player of the year. He's definitely more consistent than the sometimes disinterested Bynum.

But maybe it wasn't such a significant improvement. Bynum was named to the All-NBA second team in 2012 after all. And the one area Bynum has an undisputable edge over Howard is at the free throw line. While the new 76ers center has a career 68.7 percent mark, Howard is coming off a season in which he shot a career-low 49.1 percent at the line.

His woeful foul shooting may have already cost the Lakers a game after he went 3-for-14 in Tuesday's 99-91 loss to the Mavericks. Howard bounced back with a 15-for-19 performance from the line Wednesday, but will Howard's struggles hurt the Lakers in close games?

Then there's the addition of their two-time MVP point guard. After years of futility at the position, the Lakers had seemed to finally address the problem. But in the Princeton offense that L.A. now employs, Nash's offensive skills are mitigated. Meanwhile, his defensive liabilities continue to be an issue.

In the first two games, the 38-year-old had nine points and eight assists in 50 minutes before he left Wednesday's game with a lower leg contusion. The two starting point guards the Lakers faced -- the Mavericks' Darren Collison and Blazers rookie Damian Lillard -- combined for 40 points and 15 assists.

Up next: The L.A. Clippers' Chris Paul.

And finally there's defending the pick-and-roll, something that the Lakers' big frontline has had problems with for years. Portland took advantage throughout Wednesday night's win, putting up 116 points.

The Lakers still will be one of the best teams in the West, but roster changes haven't fixed their issues from years' past.

- Jeffrey Tomik

jtomik@washingtonexaminer.com

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Jeffrey Tomik

Sports editor
The Washington Examiner