The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled as of late and even though the team routed the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles isn’t playing its best. Dwight Howard is still not on the top of his game and there is still a lot work left to do with this roster.
In particular, free throw shooting.
In many close games this season, the Lakers have failed to convert at the free throw line and they lose great opportunities to get easy points. In the Lakers’ loss to the Houston Rockets, the team shot 22-34 from the line, and Dwight Howard made only eight of his 16 attempts.
The Rockets began to intentionally foul Howard late in the game, a tactic now known as “Hack-a-Howard.” Teams understand that Howard struggles from the line and something like that completely ruins the flow of the Lakers’ offense.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the tactic and responded to those who wonder why he keeps Howard in the game.
Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni was incredulous when a reporter relayed a question from Lakers fans who wondered why D’Antoni didn’t remove Howard from the game.
“Because they have no clue what they’re talking about,” D’Antoni said. “It’s pretty simple. You don’t do that to a guy and he made his foul shots. He’s not the reason that our defense breaks down. He’s not the reason that stuff happens. He’s got to work through this.
“If you take him out now, then what are you going to do? Are you going to take him out all the time? You’ve got a player who’s going to be your franchise player, you don’t do that to him. And it’s not him that’s causing the problem.”
Even though Howard has trouble hitting shots from the line, he is the only person that can prevent teams from using the “Hack-a-Howard” method. If he can convert on his free-throws and make himself a reliable shooter, opponents will not have an incentive to intentionally foul him.
The Lakers have been in many close games thus far this season and it is up to Howard and the other Lakers to make sure they walk off the court victorious.