by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

The Los Angeles Lakers are clawing and scratching to get themselves back into the Playoff picture. Injuries, however, threaten to derail any sort of momentum they’ve built up of late.

With Pau Gasol being the latest big man to go down, an increasingly desperate Kobe Bryant is now openly and publicly urging Dwight Howard to fight through his own injuries and suit up.

Howard has been sidelined for the last three games due to an aggravated right shoulder injury, and is reluctant to play again until the pain goes away. Kobe disagrees with this approach completely, and thinks Dwight simply needs to toughen up.

From ESPN:

“We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal,” Bryant said. “We need some urgency.” The interview came one day after Bryant publicly challenged Howard, stating that playing through an injury is “something that you have to balance out and manage.” Bryant also asserted that Howard is preoccupied with how he is perceived by fans and media.

“Dwight worries too much about what people think,” Bryant said. “I told him, ‘You can’t worry about that. It’s holding you back.’ He says, ‘OK, OK, OK,’ but it’s always hovering around him. He just wants people to like him. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, and that gets him away from what he should be doing.” [...] “(Howard) has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is,” Bryant said. “It’s win a championship or everything is a complete failure. That’s just how (the Lakers) do it. And that’s foreign to him.”

Shots.Fired.

The pressure for the big fella to play through the injury — even inside his own locker room — has been mounting. It’s probably not coincidental that Kobe Bryant put Dwight Howard on blast like this prior to tonight’s big, nationally-televised matchup with the Boston Celtics.

Dwight Howard has preached patience with the Lakers’ struggles all season long, but his teammate clearly believes a sense of urgency is lacking: “We don’t have three years,” Kobe said. “We’ve got this year.”