Throughout the entire trip where the Lakers lost two of three games, Dwight Howard refused to point fingers. He declined to complain about getting a lack of field-goal opportunities. Howard hardly questioned anyone else’s effort. He repeatedly stressed the need for the Lakers to play as a team.
Once the trip ended, Howard pointed fingers. Entirely at himself.
“I was so tired,” Howard said. “I know the last two games before that, my energy wasn’t there and for this team to be successful, it doesn’t matter how many points I score or how many rebounds I get. As long as my energy is there on the defensive end and I’m active and on the offensive end and I’m running and all that stuff, it picks everybody up.”
That didn’t happen in the Lakers losses last week to Sacramento and Memphis.
He averaged just seven points and 6.5 rebounds in those two games. Against Sacramento, Howard took only four field-goal attempts. In the Kings and Grizzlies games, Howard showed as if his seven-month back surgery limited him. Howard looked confused running pick-and-roll plays. He appeared frustrated anytime the team ignored him. It hardly helped that Pau Gasol only logged single-digit figures as well.
That all changed in the Lakers’ 115-87 win Saturday over the Dallas Mavericks. Howard posted 15 points, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
“That’s what I have to do,” Howard said. “I can’t really focus on getting the ball every play. That will come with time. Right now, my energy and activity has to be there every night for this team.”