"I told him [Bryant]: 'I'm afraid to miss. When I get out there, I don't want to miss, and I end up missing.' And he was like: 'You know what? Shoot 1,000 jumpshots a day. You're going to miss a lot of those shots. But that's OK. Because you're teaching yourself it's OK to miss.'
"Now I see it. He gets out there and he might miss a couple 3s, but then he'll make nine in a row. You see that and it just kind of gives you more inspiration."
In nine games since the All-Star break, Howard is averaging 15.4 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game. Moreover, his energy and attitude seem markedly different.
"He jumped three or four times after one ball," D'Antoni said of Howard's defensive performance Friday night, when he blocked five shots and intimidated several Raptors. "His conditioning didn't allow him to do that [before].
"I think he was harshly judged because he wasn't 100 percent. There's all kind of little factors, but the further away he gets away from the [back] operation, the better he will be."
"When I first [came to L.A.], I wanted to come here and not talk to anybody and act completely different," Howard said. "But that's not who I am. I've never been that way. I shouldn't ever shut myself off to the world. I don't think that's good for the team or for me and what I want to accomplish in life.
"I thought about it and said, 'No, I can't change. I've got to mature in certain areas,' and I think I have. But I can't change who I am."
When did that change take place?
"At the All-Star break," Howard said. "I just thought about what we're trying to accomplish as a team and I really want to win a championship. That's the reason why I'm in LA."
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Edited by , March 09, 2013 - 04:47 PM.