Much like the Lakers thus far, Dwight Howard hasn’t been much of himself this season. Recovering from back surgery last April that sidelined him for the rest of last season, Howard is still not 100% and won’t be for a couple more months. His play this season is not what many Laker fans had expected from what they remember in Orlando.
Last night was another centerpiece for why The Lakers are frustrated with his play thus far; getting ejected after committing a flagrant 2 foul on opponent Kenneth Faried. Here’s the foul that got Dwight ejected late in the 3rd, and more from that play can be read here.
After seeing the foul, I (like many of you) couldn’t believe he got ejected. I completely agree that it was a flagrant foul, but not a flagrant 2. Howard had this to say regarding his foul:
It was a hard foul,” Howard said. “That’s all I know. I’ve been fouled harder than that before and nobody’s ever gotten kicked out of the game for it, but I get penalized for fouling people hard. It’s basketball.”
I absolutely agree with Howard on this one, I’ve seen much worse fouls on the court and an ejection is not given out. I disagree with the referee’s ruling last night, and feel Howard’s foul should have been only a flagrant 1. When asked about the foul and whether Howard deserved it, Kobe Bryant had this to say
I think it is the right call. I don’t think it was extensive enough to warrant a one-game suspension, but I believe it was a flagrant.”
Kobe didn’t side with Howard, he in fact agreed with the referees and felt the foul was worth the ejection. However when asked if he felt it was worth a suspension, he disagreed. Coach Mike D’Antoni when asked what it meant to lose Howard in the 3rd, said,
“Not a whole lot.”
Wow. Not a whole lot to lose Howard in a critical point in the game. That speaks volumes to the play of Dwight recently, and how he isn’t the impact player the Lakers need him to be just yet. Yet being the key word. Howard will get to full strength by the end of the season and the Lakers will need him to be playing at his full potential in order for them to make that championship run so many are anticipating.
It’s unfortunate to see Dwight getting frustrated on the court and taking it out on innocent players. Clearly he knows he isn’t where he wants to be and also where he should be. Once this injury completely heals and he regains full strength, then, and only then can we properly criticize Howard. I strongly believe in Dwight and that he is the player that will put the Lakers over the edge in championship contention.
With the frustration growing exponentially, and Lakers fans still as impatient as ever, Howard must get his game to a peak level and become the Dwight Howard we all know he can be.