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Howard laughs about airball free throw
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On November 21, 2012 @ 4:00 am In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Mike D’Antoni, meet your biggest challenge: Dwight Howard at the free throw line.
The Los Angeles Lakers center was in vintage form Tuesday night as his new coach debuted. Howard finished 7-for-19 from the line, tempering an otherwise-dominant performance. He had 23 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks and shot 8-for-11 from the field in the 95-90 win against the Brooklyn Nets.
But Howard is a special kind of horrible from the line, and he doesn’t seem to be getting any better. He shot 67.1% as a rookie but hasn’t topped 59% since, and his 49.1% last season and 48.4% through 11 games this season are career lows.
“The free throws will come,” Howard said after the game. “They’ll get there. Just gotta keep playing.”
But then there was the airball.
Howard stepped to the line with a 76-73 Lakers lead early in the fourth quarter. First of two. Nothing but … nothing. Then a smile. Then a chuckle. Then a laugh.
We get Howard’s self-effacing reaction. At this point, what’s left to do? But the Lakers needed those points. Brooklyn usurped that lead soon after the airball, though Los Angeles stormed back in the final four minutes.
Howard went 3-for-10 from the line in the quarter, with the Nets intentionally sending him to the line. This strategy crushed the Orlando Magic for years, and it hurt the Lakers when they were led by center Shaquille O’Neal, a similarly awful free throw shooter, a decade ago.
No one expects Howard to be a good free throw shooter. Big men rarely are. But if he could get back to the 67% range he shot as a rookie, he would add 2.2 points a game to his scoring average. That’s enough to put him at the front of the MVP discussion. And it could help the Lakers win a few more games.
Contributing: David Leon Moore in Los Angeles
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