Not too many people would dare point a finger toward Kobe Bryant's face and back it up with strong words.

Dwight Howard did that Wednesday night to take a stand regarding the Lakers' need to help each other on defense — specifically for Bryant to help Howard — and came away concluding it did a lot of good.

"I don't have a problem with saying anything to anybody, and it should be that way," Howard said after the Lakers' victory over New Orleans. "We have to be able to talk to each other. We're a team. We're a family. And the more chemistry we develop that way, the better we'll be as a team."

Twice in the first quarter, Howard was visibly upset after he moved over to provide help defense against Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez, but no one — specifically Bryant — rotated over to help cover Howard's assigned man, Hornets center Robin Lopez. The first time, Howard looked back at Bryant with an anguished look on his face and gestured at him after Lopez scored for a 12-7 New Orleans lead.

Three-plus minutes later, Vasquez penetrated past Chris Duhon again, Howard shifted over to help again, and Lopez was left all alone again with Bryant toward the corner near Roger Mason instead of in the paint. Lopez scored for an 18-14 Hornets lead, and although Earl Clark was the Laker in best position to help Howard, he yelled at Bryant about it — prompting Bryant to yell back at Howard and gesture back.

After two recent games Howard has complained about going over to help others on defense but no one rotating to help cover his man. Houston backup center Greg Smith had 21 points Tuesday night in a Lakers loss, and Howard attributed it to that ongoing problem.