In the Lakers disappointing 99-92 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night, there was more than just a winless record at stake. Their sixth loss of the preseason also marked the day that Dwight Howard would make his debut, and his performance on the floor was much more important than an exhibition win. Everyone else must have thought so too, because it was the first time a preseason game had what seemed like as much media coverage as a playoff series!
Luckily for Dwight Howard and the Lakers, Superman had an impressive performance, especially for a man coming off a serious back injury and not having played since April. Kobe had high remarks for the All-Star center.
“I don’t think he looked particularly rusty tonight. He looked normal to me in terms of how he was running, in terms of his stamina, his wind. He looked great.”
If you look at the stats, Howard would appear anything but rusty (19 points, 12 boards, four blocks), but the big man definitely has some areas to improve on. Howard went 3-8 from the charity stripe and had a few too many balls swatted away in the post. Let’s just say it’s never a good thing when Lakers fans are chanting “Let’s go Shaq” to anyone at the free throw line.
Dwight admitted he can definitely make improvements, specifically with his timing.
“I was a little rusty…offensive end – just trying to get my timing back. Defensive end – just trying to be there for my teammates.”
Perhaps most impressive though, was a different statistic. Howard played almost 33 minutes in his debut. Before the game, Mike Brown mentioned that there would not be a limitation on Dwight’s minutes, but even Howard admitted that he was surprised by the minutes he played.
As far as his back was concerned, all signs point to a very healthy recovery for Dwight, although he said how he feels the day after the game will be the biggest telling factor of his progression. The good news is that Howard said he didn’t think twice about his back during the game and trainer, Gary Vitti, did not feel a need to tell Dwight to be cautious.
“Father (Vitti) said go out there and play.”
Check out Dwight Howard talking about his back post-game and having some fun talking about “Father” Gary Vitti.
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