Frustration is certainly building.

After taking an early lead in the Eastern Conference by knocking off the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks have lost five of their last six games thanks to their offense cooling off significantly.

Their struggles continued on Sunday night, and Atlanta (10-7) lost 109-94 to the Los Angeles Lakers (9-9).

It's never fun for Hawks center Dwight Howard to return to the Staples Center where he played for one season (2012-13). His time in Los Angeles is remembered for being one of the worst seasons in his career (at the time) and the continual public jarring between him and superstar Kobe Bryant.

Howard was able to score 19 points and grab nine boards on Sunday night, but Lakers fans expectedly booed every time he touched the ball. Howard told reporters after the game that he didn't hear the boos and that he "closed his ears."

His ears were working fine as he was walking towards the tunnel after the game. A video taken by a fan released by TMZ Sports showed Howard reacting to a fan that called him a b---h.

"I'm a what?" Howard replied to the fan off camera. "Come back here and say it," Howard said, gesturing towards the tunnel before stadium security started holding him back and pushing him into the tunnel.

Here's the video:

Not a good look for Howard who is trying to rejuvenate his career and become a better teammate. This is the kind of bad publicity the Hawks did not want Howard to bring to Atlanta, and they made that clear when he signed his three-year, $70.5 million contract during the offseason.

But hey, rather Howard get in a verbal exchange with a fan than with one of his own teammates.

The Hawks stay out west and play the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

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