According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Dwight Howard is focused on making the San Antonio Spurs pay for the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy.
In the most recent Spurs-Lakers matchup on April 14th, Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich implemented the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ scheme late to take advantage of Howard’s poor free-throw shooting.
Prior to the start of this upcoming playoff series, Howard issued a stern warning to Popovich and the rest of the Spurs:
“If they’re going to do that the whole series, God bless them,” Howard said. “There’s nothing I can do about it but go up there and shoot the free throws. Even if I make them, they’re still going to do it. So, that’s not my concern.
My concern is what I can control on the defensive end and then on the offensive end, just dominate. If they foul me, they foul me.
We’re going to make them pay.”
During the regular season, Howard shot a miserable 49.2% from the free-throw line. The Lakers certainly hope his efficiency from the charity stripe increases in the playoffs.
The ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy was somewhat effective in the last meeting between the Spurs and Lakers, in which Howard shot just 8 of 17 (47.1%) from the line.
Despite the strategy’s past success, coach Mike D’Antoni expressed similar confidence in Howard:
“I’m sure they’ll try it,” D’Antoni said. “We worked on Dwight being evasive out there today so they couldn’t catch him. But we’ll just deal with it. He’s going to make shots and he’ll make his foul shots.”
Like many around the NBA these days, D’Antoni despises the rule and hopes for a change in the future:
“I know when they vote, I guarantee I’ll vote yes,” D’Antoni said. “But the league will look at it. They look at everything, always. They just want to get it better. If it’s better for the game, then great. But, it’s not me to say when you have guys that they’re doing it to [ban it].
I’m sure it will happen [this series], and Dwight will step up and knock them down.”
Whether the ‘Hack-a-Howard’ strategy will be implemented and actually work in this year’s playoffs remains to be seen.
But, if Howard can capitalize on the extra opportunities at the line, it may give the underdog Lakers an added advantage as they look to upset the #2 seeded San Antonio Spurs.