Archive for the 'Dwight Howard' Category

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LAL Key: Howard’s Energy

In Los Angeles, it still starts with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers are his team, especially as he continues to get his Benjamin Button (as he described) on, leading the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points per game on a career-high 47.8 percent shooting and slowing not even a little bit from recent years.

But for the Lakers to go as far as they want to in 2012-13, things won’t just be determined by Bryant, Steve Nash or Pau Gasol, but by a former three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Indeed, Dwight Howard’s ability to dominate things on the defensive end, and still punish teams on the other side of the court, could be the whole key to L.A.’s championship aspirations.

“It starts with me,” Howard acknowledged. “My effort has to be there every night; I can’t allow anything to affect how I play and that’s what I did (vs. Portland).”

Against the Blazers on Friday night, Howard was all over the place from the outset, totaling 21 points, 14 boards in 29 minutes. When he wasn’t blocking shots (three), he was affecting then, the central force behind Portland’s 41 percent shooting.

Howard’s effort against Denver on Dec. 26 was nearly as poor as his game against Portland was good, as he totaled 12 points, seven boards and a block in 27 minute before being ejected with a flagrant two foul in the third quarter. He’d played better defensively on Christmas Day vs. the Knicks despite taking only eight shots (14 points, 12 boards), but said it’s going to take him some more time to truly get in peak condition. Howard, of course, had back surgery to conclude his 2011-12 campaign in Orlando and did not play any basketball during the offseason while recovering.

“The key for me is continue to get rest,” Howard offered. “Sometimes those back-to-back games are very tough for me, but I’m just trying to play as hard as I can.”

Despite not being where he knows he can be, Howard is still averaging 17.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on 57.2 percent shooting, all amongst NBA leaders.

The good news for the Lakers is that there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs, and by then, Howard should be in peak shape regardless.

“It does make a difference,” said Nash of Howard’s energy level. “When he plays hard it really takes a toll on the other team for both ends of the floor. He beats them up on the side on both ends. Has a big presence. That’s why we got him. We are going to lean on him. That’s why he’s a one-of a-kind player.”

Lakers on Christmas Day

- In 1947, the NBA played its first games on Christmas Day (3 total) and including this year’s slate of games, the league has seen a total of 222 Christmas Day games in all.

- The Lakers relationship with Christmas Day games dates back to 1949 and the team’s second season in the NBA. On December 25, 1949, the Lakers hosted Ft. Wayne,
defeating the Pistons 72-58 in the team’s first ever Christmas day game.

- Now in their 65th NBA season, the Lakers have played on Christmas Day 38 times, second only to the New York Knicks (47), going 20-18 in those games.

- With 20 victories, the Lakers trail New York by two for most Christmas Day victories by a team in league history. Overall, the Lakers are 12-9 all-time when home for the holidays while going 8-9 in away games.

- This will be the Lakers 14th straight Christmas Day game dating back to 1999.

- Among Christmas Day opponents, Phoenix (6), Detroit (5), Boston (4) and Miami (4) top the list of teams the Lakers have faced on December 25th.

- Surprisingly, despite the Knicks and Lakers being the two teams that have played the most Christmas Day games in league history, this is just the second time the two teams will have met on Christmas Day. In their only other meeting, the Lakers traveled to New York on Christmas Day in 1963, defeating the Knicks 134-126 behind 47 points from Jerry West and 27 points from Elgin Baylor.

- This Christmas, Kobe Bryant will be playing in his record 15th game on December 25th, further surpassing the old mark of 13 games held by Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal and Dolph Schayes. Bryant (349 points) ranks 2nd all-time in Christmas Day points scored behind Oscar Robertson (377 points).

- Additionally, Bryant ranks 2nd in assists (81) on Christmas Day behind Robertson (145), ranks 4th in steals with 15 and is tied for 2nd in three-point field goals made (11) along with LeBron James and teammate Steve Nash (trailing Chauncey Billups (13)).

- Nash also ranks 13th in assists per game (8.4) on Christmas Day while Dwight Howard ranks 10th in rebounds per game (15.3), 3rd in blocks per game (3.50) and 3rd in all-time total blocks (14) on Christmas.

Lakers 12/12/12

Happy 12/12/12!! That’s Riley/Divac/Howard in Lakers speak. Who’s your favorite #12 in Lakers history?

Here’s the full list:
Don Smith
Gene Stump
Ed Beach
Howie Schultz
Jim Holstein
Bobby Watson
Alex “Boo” Ellis

Los Angeles
Gene Wiley
Fred Crawford
Pat Riley
Don Chaney
Ronnie Lester
Vlade Divac
Jerome Kersey
Derek Harper
Mike Penberthy
Jannero Pargo
Shannon Brown
Dwight Howard

Three Lakers in Top 15 Most Popular Jerseys

The NBA released it’s list of most popular jerseys and three Lakers found their way into the top 15. Kobe Bryant, a stalwart of this list, came in at number three, while newcomers Dwight Howard and Steve Nash ranked #9 & #13 respectively.

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
4. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
5. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
6. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
7. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
8. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
9. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
10. Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
11. Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets
12. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
13. Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
14. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
15. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

(Rankings based on sales from the NBA Store and from April 2012 through Nov. 26, 2012)

-Since 2001, Bryant has claimed the No. 1 position six times in the bi-annual survey.
-The Lakers were the only team to place three players on the list.
-The purple and gold ranked third in team merchandise sold.

Player of the Game: Dwight Howard

Howard: “It’s PREEE season”

After Thursday’s loss in San Diego, L.A.’s eighth in as many preseason games, Dwight Howard wasn’t exactly concerned.

In fact, when asked why the team didn’t win a game, his response was simple:

“It’s PREEEEEE season!”, he exclaimed.

He was of the opinion that excuses don’t really need to be made – as they would after a regular season loss that actually counted – but there are a few obvious reasons for L.A.’s lack of W’s:

- Injuries/Minutes: Howard played in only two games, one of which came without Kobe Bryant, who missed the final two himself; Jordan Hill missed five games; Pau Gasol took one game off and Steve Nash played limited minutes.

- With the stars being in and out, L.A. had even more trouble adjusting to the new systems the players are learning. The offensive additions from assistant Eddie Jordan are one thing, but players like Howard, Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks are also learning a new defensive system.

- L.A.’s opponents happened to exclusively be young Western Conference squads who collectively view the Lakers as a primary rival, with Utah, Golden State, Portland, the Clippers and Sacramento all loving nothing more than scoring more points than the Lakers.

The turnovers, offensive boards conceded and so on all come in concert with those reasons, but nonetheless, the players and coaches know very well that much better play will be needed come Tuesday. Until then, here’s a summary of what else Howard had to say after the last preseason game:

Q: On how he feels physically:
Howard: I feel pretty good after the game – a little sore, but that’s expected. Just trying to continue to learn the offense and for all of us to play out of the offense has been tough for us but we’re getting it. It’s going to take some time so everybody needs to bear with us during this process. I told the guys: ‘This is a process and we’re not going to get this overnight, and we’re playing for June.’ We always have to remember that. We have to stay focused and realize what our goal is at the end of the season.

Q: On the turnover problem:
Howard: We’re trying to learn the offense and in that process, we’re thinking so much about what spots we need to be in and little things (like that). I told the guys: ‘Don’t get frustrated – I know it’s tough. But control the things we can control, which is how hard we play.’ The offense and all that stuff will come, so we can’t get frustrated.

Q: On his excitement level to start the season opener:
Howard: I’m excited to just get back out there. This was my second game back and I didn’t really expect to start playing this early, but I’m thankful to have this opportunity. Like I said it’s a process for us. We don’t expect to win every game, but we do expect – about midseason – everybody will have the offense down and we’ll be (clicking).

Q: On how his back feels:
Howard: I really didn’t get a chance to get a couple practices in before today’s game, but I was a little off with the timing and everything. All that stuff will come, though. It’s a process for all of us and for me. I’m not expecting to be 100 percent right now, but I’m expecting to be full force when it’s playoff time.

Q: On how he feels where he’s at defensively:
Howard: Still a step slow, but just trying to get my timing down and understanding how guys are going to play. It’s a great test to go up against guys who can shoot the ball well for bigs and are physical. I’m not too focused on the outcome of tonight’s game, but how can we grow? Take the positives out of this loss and how we can get better.

Q: On what the rest has done for him:
Howard: After the games I’m going to be sore and tight, but that’s just the process I have to do to get back into it. I’m still rehabbing on a daily basis and that’s not going to stop. Once you feel like you’re fine, that’s when you tend to get more injuries. For me, I just want to continue to rehab and keep going through the process because I don’t want to ever stop building what I’ve accomplished so far.

Lord Stanley Visits the Lakers

The Stanley Cup continues to make the rounds around Los Angeles and Sunday night that included visiting a place that it knows very well, STAPLES Center. Except this time the hardwood was down on the floor instead of the ice.

As the team exited the locker room following their postgame media obligations they were able to stop and spend a moment with the most historical trophy in sports. Here’s a look at Dwight Howard, Mike Brown and Metta World Peace checking out the cup. Thanks to the LA Kings for sharing the big guy with us for an evening.

Sports Illustrated Cover

Offseason additions Steve Nash & Dwight Howard are featured on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated NBA Preview issue. “All 30 Teams, One New King of the West”

Building Team Chemistry

(all photos by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Howard To Start vs. Kings

Dwight Howard will make his Laker debut tonight at home against the Sacramento Kings.

Howard was cleared for full contact drills on October 9 and had slowly been working his way back into game shape. The biggest concern for the big man was his conditioning.

“That’s the main thing,” Howard explained after Thursday’s practice. “Like I told you guys: ‘I don’t want to go out there fatigued and injure something else.’ Most of the time, that’s when you (get) injuries. So I just want to make sure I’m in pretty good shape to play.”

For the first time, the Lakers will also put out their regular starting lineup on the floor with Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Howard.