There is no question the Los Angeles Lakers struggles from the free-throw line and their star center Dwight Howard is shooting a horrendous 46.5 percent from the line.
If Howard has time to operate inside the paint, there is a great chance that he will end up getting an easy two points for the Lakers. However, once Howard steps to the free-throw line his effectiveness takes a great dip. Often times opponents opt to intentionally foul Howard so that he is forced to shoot free throws inside of getting inside position near the basket.
The Orlando Magic used the tactic, now known as “Hack-a-Dwight” at Staples Center on Sunday en route to their stunning victory. In the Lakers’ 113-102 loss the Magic, Howard made only nine of this 21 free-throw attempts and the team’s offense became stagnant.
The Lakers play the Houston Rockets today in their first of three road games, and according to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets will intentionally foul Howard if they find it necessary. Rockets acting head coach Kelvin Sampson knows that the tactic has proven to be effective for other teams and if it helps him beat the Lakers, he has no problem using “Hack-a-Dwight.”
“Even when I was in Milwaukee, we did it,” Sampson said. “If you have a choice between giving him a dunk or wrapping him up, that’s an easy decision. Make him make his free throws. We’ve done that with other players, too. I remember when we were in Milwaukee, we beat Dallas one time playing hack-a-Brendan (Haywood). I’m sure teams in the past played hack-a-Omer (Asik). Omer’s kind of slid out of the hack-a category, though. He’s started to make his free throws.”
However, at the end of the day, Howard is the person that decides whether or not the intentional foul tactic proves effective for the opponent or not. The only way to stop the “Hack-a-Dwight” is if Howard knocks down his free-throws. Howard claims that he is improving from the free-throw line, but he is not showing it during games. Hitting free-throws in practice is completely different than hitting the shots in an arena in front of thousands of fans.
The Lakers have been struggling as of late and they need Howard to perform well tonight against the feisty Rockets.