Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard talks about his health, his recent free throw struggles, Kobe Bryant’s 30,000 points and more.
Much of the NBA is discussing Dwight Howard’s inability to hit free throws, and the tactical opportunity that creates for Laker opponents to foul Howard early and often. Even if Howard is nowhere near the action, if an opponent grabs him, it is Howard who must step the free throw line, and he’ll bring his career 58 percent free-throw shooting average with him.
Before Wednesday evening’s games, Howard had shot a league-leading 203 free throws on the season, of which he has made just 95.
The Los Angeles Lakers have lost five of their last seven games, which means they’re currently in the midst of their 47th crisis of the still-young season. Their latest defeat, a 107-105 road loss to the Houston Rockets , stung quite sharply. Leading by ten heading into the fourth quarter, the Lakers gave up 34 points in the final 12 minutes. They might have won anyway, though, if Dwight Howard hadn’t missed 5-of-10 free throws in the fourth (including a 2-for-7 stretch) as the Rockets resorted to a Hack-a-Howard strategy.
After the game, reporters naturally asked Howard about his struggles. But he chose to place the blame for the loss on the entire team and not his specific problems at the line. Watch his comments above and read them below, as transcribed by Adi Joseph at USA Today :
OAKLAND — Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn cautioned his team after Sunday’s emotional win over old pal Dwight Howard and the Lakers in Los Angeles to keep the party short. A hot Golden State Warriors team awaited 24 hours later.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — If this season for the Orlando Magic is about learning how to do things without Dwight Howard, finding motivation is no longer one of them.
After dropping a 113-103 contest on their home floor to the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers now sit at 8-9, in third place in a Pacific Division they’ve topped for five straight seasons, and in the uncomfortable position of not knowing quite how to fix what ails them. Injured star point guard Steve Nash is reportedly still 10 to 14 days away from returning to the fold, the relative age and size of Pau Gasol’s pants is a matter of some debate, and Kobe Bryant is seemingly ready to start punching and kicking literally everyone, an approach to problem-solving that seems dubious, at best.
There’s still plenty of time, of course, for Mike D’Antoni’s crew to figure things out and for the Lakers to work themselves into the kind of inside-out/outside-in/everywhere-at-once offensive marvel that nobody wants to play come late spring; with the eventual reintegration of Nash into the lineup and better health and general comportment from (or, failing that, perhaps the trade of ) Gasol, it seems a more reasonable bet that the Lakers will end the season having won more than half their games than that they’ll finish up south of .500. Still, though, the Lakers went from a team that many ( including us ) expected to work as a no-doubt title favorite to a team whose championship chances — both now and going forward, considering the advancing ages of Bryant, Nash and Gasol — seem a bit shaky, to say the least.
This doesn’t sound quite like what Dwight Howard signed up for when — at the end of a long, messy and very public divorce with the Magic that he later attributed to wanting everybody to love him — he made his way west in search of fame, fortune and, above all else, titles. And Howard — who’s still set to hit free agency this summer — apparently intimated as much during a recent conversation with John Denton of the Magic’s official website (emphasis mine):
* Howard finishes with 21 points, 15 rebounds * Magic snap three-game losing streak Dec 2 (Reuters) – The Orlando Magic caught fire in the fourth quarter to stun the Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 and get the better of former player Dwight Howard on Sunday. In their first meeting since trading Howard to Los Angeles in the off-season, the struggling Magic surprised the Lakers by scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to snatch the road victory. …
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Arron Afflalo scored 30 points, Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic beat Dwight Howard in their first game against their longtime center, stunning the Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 on Sunday night.
(Reuters) – The Orlando Magic caught fire in the fourth quarter to stun the Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 and get the better of former player Dwight Howard on Sunday. In their first meeting since trading Howard to Los Angeles in the off-season, the struggling Magic surprised the Lakers by scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to snatch the road victory. Arron Afflalo led the way with 30 points while Glen Davis added 23 and 12 rebounds to help Orlando (6-10) snap a three-game losing streak. …