Updated: December 14, 2012, 1:24 AM ET

Around The Association

As Lakers Spiral, Bright Lights Await

By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
lastname
Bryant

If you look closely at Kobe Bryant these days, really close, there are two long, raw scratches across his forehead. In person you can't miss them. But even on television, if you watched his lengthy, soul-baring interview with Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday, it's hard to miss the pink flesh atop his forehead that's just now starting to scab over.

It's hard to know whose fingernails cut into him, or even when. The first time I noticed was at his locker Sunday night after Bryant scored another magnificent 34 points in an otherwise lifeless 117-110 loss to the Utah Jazz that feels like a million years ago after the Lakers dropped another one in Cleveland on Tuesday, then boarded a plane for New York City for a game Thursday against the Knicks.

When I gestured to the scratches and asked how he got them, Bryant shrugged his shoulders and exhaled but did not answer. Who cares? This season has already left him with more scratches and gashes than are worth counting. The ones that expose a little flesh are the least of his worries.

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Is Dwight Temporary In L.A.?

By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine
lastname
Howard

The Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of issues to worry about right now, their lack of offensive execution and their lack of transition defense foremost among them. But there's another pressing issue the Lakers might soon have to consider if their season continues along this negative path -- their lack of Dwight Howard's signature on a contract.

Since Howard was traded to the Lakers in the offseason, it has been virtually a foregone conclusion that he would re-sign with the club after this season. The Lakers seemed to have everything Howard wanted -- a great pass-first point guard, a legitimate chance to win championships, a bustling metropolis with tons of endorsement opportunities and, of course, Hollywood.

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