The NBA: Phew! Welcome to the Win Column!

Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant cannot help but smile
after finally getting their first win together.
(image by Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Somewhere deep inside him, Dwight Howard is probably feeling a bit of irony.

He left Orlando and went to the Lakers to team up with AT LEAST one future Hall of Famer and get a better shot at a title.

The irony? Orlando is 2-0. They’ve found a way, so far, to win without the consensus best center in the world. The Lakers, meanwhile, went 0-3 to begin their season. They’ve yet to find a way to maximize Mike Brown’s strange offensive scheme with a bit of consistency.

It was good, then, that Dwight and Co. finally found a way to win. They manhandled the Pistons, 108-79.

''We had to stop the bleeding, and there wasn't a way to do it other than coming out here tonight and getting a solid win,'' said center Pau Gasol, who scored 14 points for LA.

That’s one way of putting it, I guess. After the Lakers lost their first 11 games (including 8 preseason losses) with their newly acquired superstars, a lot of people were shaking their heads. How can a team as stacked as this lose eleven straight?

It can’t possibly be the talent, right? It has to be something – someone – else.

Enter Mike Brown.

Many were surprised he was chosen to helm the Lakers after Phil Jackson left. Many thought the spot should’ve been given to longtime Jackson prodigy Brian Shaw, himself a former Laker.

The criticisms poured on as the Lakers were unexpectedly pushed to seven games by the Nuggets in the first round of the 2012 Playoffs and then unceremoniously tossed by the Thunder in just five games in the conference semifinals.

The 0-11 record didn’t help things, but, finally, Coach Mike gets a W with his significantly retooled squad.

After the win over Detroit, Kobe had this to say, ''It's a relief - more for Mike than anybody else.''

He’s spot on there.

Anything less than a Playoff spot, wait, check that, anything less than a Championship would be tragic for the Lakers. Let’s be honest and call a spade a spade. This team was made for one purpose only – to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to the City of Angels. Not just to win the Pacific. Not just to win the West. Not just to contend against Miami.

They were engineered to win it all.

And this first win should finally set the tone.

Somewhere deep inside him, Dwight Howard is heaving a sigh of relief. His old team might have a better record to start the season, but he can bet all he owns that his new team will have a much better slate by the end of it.

And, yeah, Mike Brown can heave his own sigh of relief.

Welcome to the win column, Coach Mike. Finally.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
New York 100, Philadelphia 84
Carmelo Anthony netted 27 points to lead the New York Knicks past the Philadelphia 76ers, 100-84, in the opener of a home- and-home set at Madison Square Garden. J.R. Smith added 20 points and nine rebounds, while Jason Kidd had 12 points and Raymond Felton contributed 11 for the Knicks, who are 2-0 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Jrue Holiday paced the 76ers with 27 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three- point range. He also had seven assists. Thaddeus Young finished with 16 points and Evan Turner had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia, which was coming off a season-opening win over Denver.

Carmelo Anthony struck hard again as the Knicks
go to 2-0 after downing the Sixers.
(image by Henry Ray Abrams/AP)

Orlando 115, Phoenix 94
Even without two starters the Orlando Magic showed they can still compete in the post-Dwight Howard era, as they pulled away in the second half to upend the Phoenix Suns, 115-94, on Sunday. J.J. Redick had 24 points and six assists off the bench, while Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis each netted 22 points for Orlando, which shot 9-of-11 from behind the arc and made 64 percent of its shots after halftime. Nikola Vucevic posted a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds in the resounding win. The Suns, led by Luis Scola's 24 points and Michael Beasley's 22, lost their first road games of the season after splitting two at home.

JJ Redick should have a lot more looks
as the Magic enter the post-Dwight era.
(image by Fernando Medina/Getty Images)

Toronto 105, Minnesota 86
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry poured in 22 points apiece on Sunday, as the Toronto Raptors earned their first win of the season with a 105-86 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Air Canada Centre. Alan Anderson chipped in 18 points off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range to help the Raptors avoid their first 0-3 start since losing nine in a row to kick off the 2005-06 season. Andrei Kirilenko paced the Timberwolves with 17 points to go with six rebounds and Nikola Pekovic followed with 15 points for Minnesota, which has lost its last nine trips to Air Canada Centre.

Atlanta 104, Oklahoma City 95
Al Horford netted 23 points and ripped down 12 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks held off the Oklahoma City Thunder, 104-95, on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Louis Williams scored 19 points, including 14 in the final quarter, while Jeff Teague helped the cause with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with five assists. Ivan Johnson contributed 10 points in a 12-plus minute run off the bench for the Hawks, who won their third consecutive road opener. Kevin Martin dropped in a game-high 28 points, Kevin Durant was a pair of assists shy of his first career triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka donated 14 points each for the Thunder, who turned the ball over 21 times.

LA Lakers 108, Detroit 79
Dwight Howard dropped in 28 points and ripped down seven rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers took out some major frustrations with a 108-79 thrashing of the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at Staples Center. After losing their first three regular season games plus all eight preseason contests, the struggling Pistons proved to be the perfect fodder for a Lakers team with championship aspirations. Metta World Peace finished with 18 points and five rebounds, Pau Gasol added 14 points and five boards and Kobe Bryant netted 15 and handed out eight assists for Los Angeles, which avoided its first 0-4 start since 1957, when the team was still located in Minneapolis. Jonas Jerebko led Detroit with 18 points, while Will Bynum and Kyle Singler added 10 and 11 points, respectively, for the Pistons, who fell to 0-3 on the season.

Kobe Bryant tries a familiar reverse
lay-up as LA beat Detroit.
(image by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

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