Howard on playing hurt: ‘This is my career’
by Alex Raskin, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK — There was a time when Brooklyn Nets employees and fans alike envisioned Dwight Howard making his Barclays Center debut in a black-and-white uniform, but that now seems like a distant memory.
Because of Howard’s shoulder injury, Nets fans didn’t even get to see him in Gold and Purple on Tuesday. The injury cost him his third consecutive game and likely his only chance to play at Barclays Center this season.
Howard didn’t say much at Tuesday’s shootaround. He hoped for another win, but when asked if he could play with the injury, the soon-to-be free agent said, “This is my career.”
“I have no idea,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Tuesday when asked if Howard would return by the end of the road trip. “I would think, but I do not know. It just depends on how bad, when the pain goes away.”
Both teams obviously wanted Howard before the season started, but if you expected either the Lakers or Nets to lament over his absence on Tuesday, you haven’t been paying attention.
In the months since the Nets’ failed second attempt to acquire Howard (they had also tried and failed at last year’s trade deadline), Brook Lopez has turned into one of the top players at the position. He currently leads all centers in scoring at just less than 19 points per game and was recently selected to his first All-Star game.
As point guard Deron Williams said on Sunday, missing out on Howard is not a “woulda, coulda, shoulda scenario.”
Meanwhile, the Lakers — who acquired Howard from the Orlando Magic in the offseason — won five of six heading into Tuesday (the final two of which were without Howard) as the offense seemed to take on a new, unselfish identity.
“You play the same way,” D’Antoni said. “We just want to try and keep (opponents) out of the lane a little bit better because we don’t have that guy at the rim to clog it up.”
In truth, the Lakers offense began to morph into something new in late January, but Howard’s absence hasn’t done anything to slow down that transitio. If anything, … [For more on Dwight Howard on playing hurt: 'This is my career', click here.]