Dwight Howard showed instincts Andrew Bynum rarely displayed. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
Deconstructing Dwight, Part 1 of dozens of chapters to come, undoubtedly.
The Lakers center took the court Sunday for the first time with his new team and showed exactly why he was different from Andrew Bynum. Markedly.
Dwight Howard has instincts that his predecessor has rarely shown, scoring five times off alley-oop passes and teammates' missed shots in an exhibition game against Sacramento. Unlike Bynum, Howard's not a guy who needs the ball in the post, though he showed a left-handed hook shot against the Kings.
Howard is ambidextrous, the result of a childhood accident in which he broke the wrist of his dominant (left) hand and learned to shoot with his right. He passes with his right hand, shoots free throws right-handed and shoots from the post slightly more with his left hand. But only slightly.
"Dwight's body is far more genetically gifted than Andrew. Andrew has had some issues obviously in his lower extremities in both knees," said Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person, who worked with Bynum last season and now Howard. "Andrew is gifted within his own right, but Dwight brings much better force because he's faster, quicker, more explosive, and he understands the game a lot better at this point than Bynum does.
"We have a much more gifted player on our hands, no doubt. Dwight understands who he is and what he's trying to accomplish. 'Drew understands where he needs to go, but he's still searching on how to get there."
How did Howard feel the day after the Lakers' 99-92 loss? It was his first game action since back surgery in April.
"Sore. They said I was going to be very sore today. My whole body," he said Monday. "They said my back was going to ache. All that stuff."
He might sit out Wednesday's game against the Clippers at Staples Center before returning for the Lakers' exhibition finale Thursday against Sacramento in San Diego.
Bryant, World Peace injured
Kobe Bryant did not practice Monday after suffering a bruised and strained right foot in Sunday's game. He was kicked in the foot in the third quarter and is listed as day to day.
Metta World Peace practiced Monday but wore a brace on the middle finger of his right hand after suffering a dislocation while playing defense in Sunday's game.
The race for the end of the bench appears to be a one-man show.
The Lakers are leaning toward keeping 14 players on their roster, one below the NBA maximum, meaning Robert Sacre might be the only one to stay among three players with nonguaranteed contracts.
Sacre, the last player taken in the June draft, has averaged 5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 24 minutes in preseason with the Lakers.
Andrew Goudelock and Darius Johnson-Odom haven't received much playing time in exhibition play and are longshots to make the roster. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Greg Somogyi were cut Monday.
Earl Clark, Devin Ebanks, Jodie Meeks and Darius Morris all have guaranteed contracts and will not be waived. Backup point guards Steve Blake and Chris Duhon are on guaranteed contracts through the 2013-14 season.
Miami in June?
The Miami Heat will win the NBA championship, according to the annual NBA.com survey of general managers.
Miami was picked by 70% of the general managers, and the Lakers received 23% of the vote. Lakers fans shouldn't cancel their season tickets — the general managers picked the correct champion only six of the last 10 years, though they did nail the Miami pick last season.
The Lakers were picked to win the Western Conference over Oklahoma City, 60% to 37%.
Bryant was picked as the NBA's best shooting guard and Howard (93%) got the overwhelming nod over Bynum (7%) as the league's best center.