Batum dunks on Howard, Blazers beat Lakers
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Dwight Howard posters are going up all over Southern California bedrooms. But the Los Angeles Lakers’ new star might find his way into a few Oregon homes, too.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum soared past Howard for a thunderous dunk Wednesday in the third quarter of a 116-106 win. Batum led the Blazers with 26 points in the season opener.
Howard had himself a pretty strong night, too, turning in game-highs of 33 points and 14 rebounds. But he only had one block, and he probably wishes he added a second here:
Batum is one of the most unheralded players in the NBA. The 23-year-old starred for France in the London Olympics and signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension with the Blazers this offseason. He can shoot and slash and defend, and many anticipate a breakout season for him this year.
The play was impressive. Batum is defended on the wing by Devin Ebanks. Teammate LaMarcus Aldridge sets a weak screen on Ebanks, but that leads to a double on Batum. Of course, the help is from Pau Gasol, not the world’s best defender. Batum blows by Gasol and Ebanks, goes up and skies past Howard.
Thing of beauty, really.