Sunday, November 23, 2014
Tags Posts tagged with "dwight howard"

dwight howard

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Image Credit: Luis Sinco | Los Angeles Times
Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro | USA TODAY Sports
Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro | USA TODAY Sports

When Stan Van Gundy was fired as the Orlando Magic’s head coach back in May, most fingers were pointed at Dwight Howard. Despite their awkward break up in Orlando, the LA Times’ Ben Bloch reports that the two are now getting along just fine.

Van Gundy and Howard regularly exchange friendly text messages, in which the two discuss Howard’s play and his progression in recovering from back surgery. Not only has Howard discussed his own play with Van Gundy, but he has also passed along a few thoughts about the Lakers’ shortcomings:

 

“The only thing he’s really gotten into was,” Van Gundy said, “He wants their defense to be better.”

Van Gundy took over the Magic coaching position in 2007 and led the Magic to five straight playoff appearances. The main reason for their constant success was Howard’s development into an elite NBA center.

The ex-Magic head coach saw Howard grow from a young blossoming player, into the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year. Predicated on defense, Van Gundy’s system played a large part in molding Howard into the tenacious defender he became.

Now, however, 8 months removed from having surgery to repair a herniated disk, Howard still lacks the same explosion Van Gundy saw in Orlando:

“I don’t think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past,” said Van Gundy, “Now, he’s still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me.”

In Orlando, Howard was certainly the league’s best center; in part due to the dying breed of elite NBA centers but also due to Howard’s superior athletic ability. Howard has had a decent start to this season as a Laker, averaging 17.6 points per game on 57.2% shooting, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 2.5 blocks per game.

These averages are very close to his career averages, but the same explosion and defensive prowess he has displayed in the past has clearly been lacking, thus far. Howard claims that his timing and conditioning are still an issue, which have taken longer to regain because of the surgery. Just a week ago, Howard explained that he is sometimes unable to even feel his feet because of the still redeveloping nerves:

“Tingling in my legs all the way down to my feet,” Howard said as he described his current state. “There’s times when sometimes I really can’t even feel my feet. [The doctors] said that’s going to happen. It takes at least nine months for you to get strength back in your legs and all that stuff. So I’m still in that process.”

As Howard explains, his recovery is still a slow and steady “process”. The main concern for Laker fans should be Howard’s health, but Van Gundy also added that the change in Howard’s offensive role has taken an adjustment period as well:

“It’s a big adjustment for him, going from being the guy to not only being the No. 2 guy but really a No. 2 guy that really doesn’t get the ball very much at all,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a different deal and an adjustment he has to make. Those kind of things take time.”

Despite this need to adjust, Van Gundy believes the six-time NBA All-Star can make that sacrifice, to both his role and ego, in the name of an NBA championship:

“I think Dwight is going to be more than willing to make the adjustment,” Van Gundy said, “but it’s still an adjustment and it takes time mentally too because your ego — and ego is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, you need it to be great in this league — tells you that you’re supposed to be the man and having to adjust to playing off somebody else is not an easy thing.”

Even though Howard and Van Gundy’s relationship ended on a sour note in Orlando, Van Gundy still holds great admiration for the center. Van Gundy also appreciates what Howard has done for his own coaching career and the contributions he made to both the Magic and the city of Orlando:

“Dwight and my time in Orlando, I thought the relationship was good, worked well, produced results and that’s what player-coach relationships in this league should be about, are the results that they get and the results here were good, mainly because Dwight’s as good as he is. He’s a great, great player and I have a great appreciation for what he did for our teams and for me as a coach.”

Since Van Gundy admires and still believes in Howard, he sees a potential championship run on the horizon. Van Gundy, just like Howard, continues to preach patience and keeps reserved faith in Howard returning to elite-status:

“I think he’s getting ready to have a great year and you’ve got to have some patience, which is not a thing that fans really have in abundance and I understand that,” Van Gundy said. “I think if [the Lakers] can stay healthy, by late January you’ll have a pretty good indication of whether or not things are working.”

Just as Van Gundy explains, patience is key for this Lakers team. Unlike Lakers teams in the past, this team was relatively thrown together in a matter of months. Now, with a brand new culmination of players, a new system and coach in Mike D’Antoni, the key will be both health and synergy come playoff time.

If Howard can continue progressing well in his recovery back to full strength, and the rest of the team stays healthy, the Lakers certainly have the talent to surpass their current 8th place seed in the Western Conference.

Although Howard has shown flashes of dominance at times this season, it is clear that he is still not back to the same player he once was. With 52 games remaining, Van Gundy’s text messages could be key in pushing Howard back to consistent dominance and propelling the Lakers towards a 17th NBA title.

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Los Angeles Lakers reserve forward Antawn Jamsion was brought in to be a great scorer off the bench this season for a championship caliber team. However, after being given reduced minutes and not playing in the past five games, Jamison (via Mark Medina of L.A. Daily News) is beginning to question whether or not Los Angeles is the place for him.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/MedinaLakersNBA/status/284912185086472192″]

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Jamison is averaging a career low 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds in just 20 minutes per game this season as a Laker. These numbers are notably below his career averages of 19.2 points, 7.8  rebounds and 35.9 minutes per game. Even during his rookie campaign with Golden State (’98-99) he managed to post better numbers across the board.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times spoke to Antawn in more detail about his DNP’s after the Lakers recent blowout win Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Antawn Jamison has seen just about everything in his NBA career.

“Not this,” he said Friday after sitting out a fifth consecutive game via the dreaded DNP-Coach’s Decision.

“Fifteen years,” the Lakers forward said, recapping his career. “My only thing is let me know why. I don’t think you go from starting and 30-something minutes to not in the rotation whatsoever. And not explaining to me what exactly happened, that’s the toughest thing. There’s nothing you can do but be positive and support your teammates. The only reason I came here was they said I was going to play and to win a championship.”

Jamison didn’t stop there:

“There’s a competitor in me that wants to compete and I know I can help the team,” Jamison said. “Whenever I get answers, I guess I’ll feel more better about the situation but nothing has been told to me why nothing has happened or that I did anything wrong.

“DNPs for the first time in my career. I have not had a conversation with [D’Antoni] about anything about the situation.”

ESPNLA writer Dave McMenamin spoke to head coach Mike D’Antoni briefly about Antawn not playing before the blow out win:

“Probably,” D’Antoni said, simply, when asked if Jamison would get a chance to cut his DNP-CD streak anytime in the near future. “Everybody gets another chance. We’re playing nine guys and I’m really liking Metta (World Peace) going and making us small. I like that. We don’t want to lose Antawn because he does what he does, but Darius (Morris), I want to keep developing him. His defense, his energy, his stuff of that sort. But, we’ll see. Antawn is ready to roll if we need him.”

D’Antoni continued:

“I’m sure he wants to play, as does any player wants to play, but he’s great,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a professional and he knows his chance will come around.”

Jamison did not play during the first three quarters because he has been out of the rotation. However, during the fourth quarter, with the lead well in hand, D’Antoni cleared the bench and sent in Robert Sacre, Devin Ebanks, and Earl Clark… while Jamison sat and watched.

Sacre, a rookie from Gonzaga, has spent time with the Lakers D-league affiliate Defenders and has played in 13 games with the Lakers. Ebanks, a young reserve forward, has played in 15 games this season. Earl Clark, acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, has played in 9 games with the team this season.

After the game, Coach D’Antoni spoke about Jamison not playing during garbage time:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/LakersReporter/status/284903504722673664″]

After signing with the Lakers, Jamison came with lofty goals and expectations. It was widely assumed that he would come off the bench to add another threat to a team full of star players. With Steve Nash and Dwight Howard being added to the starting lineup, Jamison’s averages off the bench would provide the needed scoring punch to turn the Lakers from a good team, to a great team.

Unfortunately for Jamison, that has not happened yet. In a season full of peaks and valleys for the Laker faithful, Antawn’s absences have become an obstacle to overcome, instead of a pillar to rely on. Granted, the season is still young and there is plenty of time to turn things around. However, comments like these are sure to present problems if they are largely ignored in the locker room.

To date, Antawn Jamison has a reputation for being the consummate professional. It’s hard to speculate that his comments are anything more than a spill over moment of frustration about his lack of playing time.

Regardless of how he feels, the ball is not in his court.

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Huh?
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers starting power forward Pau Gasol was recently diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The injury comes at a time where the team was beginning to mesh well with one another with Gasol’s return as well as star point guard Steve Nash. Plantar Fasciitis, as Eric Pincus of the LA Times reports is,

…an inflammation of a tendon within the sole of the foot. It’s a relatively common injury that can be resolved with treatment and orthotics (customized shoe inserts).

Gasol’s right foot was examined by Dr. Kenneth Jung via MRI. The Lakers list their forward/center as probable against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The only cure for Plantar fasciitis is rest, however it has been noted that having a plantar fascia tear is more bearable than dealing with the inflammation:

Recently Richard Hamilton of the Chicago Bulls tore his plantar fascia, which has him still sidelined now for almost a month. A clean tear can actually heal more easily than dealing with the ongoing pain of plantar fasciitis.

Some players are able to go all season with the ailment. Some sit for a stretch to try to alleviate the inflammation.

Most recently, star Kobe Bryant dealt with the injury back in 2004 but did not sit out any games. This is not the first injury to Gasol this season as he previously sat out for 8 games with knee tendinitis before recently returning on the 18th of December.

This injury will only further complicate Gasol’s season as he is still struggling to find a comfort level within coach MIke D’Antoni‘s offense and along side star center Dwight Howard. However with Nash leading the offense and supplying Gasol with the best looks available, whether they are in the post or three point shots, it is believed that he will play through the injury and do it well.

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Photo Credit: ESPN.GO
Photo Credit: ESPN.GO

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.

 

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Photo Credit: ESPN

Around the holidays the words probable and probably are often used. For kids it’s a magical word that means they may get the toy they want; for adults it means they may get that new car they have wanted all year.  For Los Angeles Lakers fans it means that there is still a good chance for a title run after All-Star weekend, yet for Dwight Howard probably almost meant an early retirement.

The Lakers star center almost had to call it quits before going into herniated disc surgery for his back last season. As Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register and Scott Cooper of NBA.com both reported Dwight was dangerously close to hearing the words “never play basketball again“,

The doctors told him that if he kept trying to fight through the pain “for a couple weeks or a month” more and put off surgery (as Howard sort of wanted to in order to answer critics in Orlando expecting him to bail on the franchise), he might have done irreparable harm to his spine.

“If I would have waited until after the season, if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore,” Howard said.

Like previously stated, Dwight wanted to play to respond to his critics but had to consider his health and the longevity of his career,

“When I got hurt, I lost my whole left leg, basically, from my nerves,” he said. “That takes at least nine months to get that strength back. I was able to get some of it back in a couple of months. But it’s always a process. I wish that it would all come back right away, but this is a great time for me to work on other parts of my game that’ll make myself better and also make the team better.

At one point Dwight was willing to play through the injury but had to reconsider what the repercussions were;

“If I would have waited until after the season (to have the operation), if I would have tried to continue to play, then I probably wouldn’t be able to play anymore. I had to do it right away. I didn’t want to risk my career for some playoff games. They were important for me, but my health is important.”

Dwight made the right decision and decided to have the surgery and begin his long journey back to being in his playing shape. He has taken a lot of criticism for not being the player he was in Orlando but he does feel it coming,

“It’s really, at this point, not even my back. The injury I had caused my whole left leg to just lose all strength. My nerves were severely damaged. It takes a while for those nerves to grow back and for you to have enough strength to play. All that stuff is coming back slowly. There’s still days, like I said, where I feel really good, and there’s day when I’m not so good. But it’s all a process. I’m pretty sure at the end of the year I’ll feel a lot better than I do now.

Right now, Dwight still has a long road ahead of him to return to his dominant form. What people forget is that when he first was acquired via trade reports about his injury had him out until January and even then he would have had to still get into shape. Expectations for this Lakers team were sky high at the beginning of the season and I still believe that they can be reached but it will take time and determination from Dwight who is ultimately the backbone for the Lakers present and future.

Happy Holidays!

 

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Image Credit: Lance Murphey | Associated Press
Image Credit: Lance Murphey | Associated Press

Finally.

This must be the collective sentiment of the Lakers’ fan base as a whole. Since joining the Lakers this past off-season, Antawn Jamison has been nothing short of disappointing so far this season. However, last night in the Lakers’ 106-98 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Jamison finally broke out of his slump and contributed an efficient night off the bench.

With starting power forward Pau Gasol struggling from the field (6 points on 3/8 shooting), coach Mike D’Antoni turned to Jamison off the bench. Jamison, a career 19 points per game scorer, responded for the first time this season with an efficient game on both ends of the floor. Despite fouling out towards the end of the game, Jamison finished the night with 16 points on 7/11 shooting, 7 rebounds (5 offensive) and a blocked shot. Although the 16 points were a welcomed sight, his 5 offensive rebounds were even more impressive.

Playing Jamison at the power forward position for most of the night, with Gasol on the bench, was certainly an effective call by D’Antoni. Jamison looked much more aggressive at power forward than he has in the back up small forward role. With Gasol struggling of late, don’t be surprised if you see Jamison playing more at the back up power forward position. His ability to stretch the floor (2/5 from 3-point range last night) and play at a faster tempo will be key in D’Antoni’s “run and fun” offensive scheme.

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Image Credits: A.P. & Stephen Dunn | Getty Images
Image Credits: A.P. & Stephen Dunn | Getty Images

As was reported earlier, Coach Mike D’Antoni is expected to make his long anticipated debut on the bench for the Lakers tonight. If tonight’s game against the Brooklyn Nets (7:30PM PST on TWCSN & NBATV) didn’t already have enough drama leading up to it, a quote from yesterday’s media session may have added even more:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/mcten/status/270646266931855360″]

This past summer could certainly be dubbed the “Dwight Howard Saga” as the uncertainty of the center’s future lasted until August, when he was finally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to the trade though, Howard’s desired destination had always been the Brooklyn Nets. When that failed to materialize after multiple trading attempts by the Nets, Brooklyn decided to go a different direction.

According to USA Today, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams advised Brooklyn management this past summer against pursuing Howard: “Please just don’t wait on Dwight. We can’t wait and not have a team.” After the attempts to land Howard failed, this statement as well as the subsequent moves for Joe Johnson, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez ultimately led to end of Brooklyn’s pursuit of Howard.

Now in Los Angeles, Howard will face Williams tonight for the first of two meetings this season. After Howard’s quote about their friendship from yesterday, it will be interesting to see if there is any sort of “bad blood” between the two superstars on the court. Obviously, it seems that Howard does not care whether or not Williams is upset by him not joining the Nets this past off-season. Howard is currently working on putting the past behind him and is focused on moving forward, but this recent quote could make things awkward between the two, both on and off the court.

The Brooklyn Nets (6-2) enter Staples Center tonight riding a 5-game winning streak. With D’Antoni now permanently at the helm, the Lakers will need another solid performance from Howard to push past the Nets and end the Lakers home stand on a positive note. Hopefully Howard will use this volatile relationship with Williams as motivation and continue his stellar play as he works himself back into full strength.

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Courtesy Getty Images

In some corners of Laker Nation, the first week of the NBA season has been one filled with confusion, disappointment, and, most of all, panic. From the Lakers 1-3 start, to Mike Brown’s shaky rotations, to Steve Nash’s role in the offense and suddenly significant injury, there has been plenty to over-analyze about the Lakers star-studded team.

In a season that has six more months until the real, meaningful Laker games, the one question that keeps popping into my mind is: why stress? Why are we so worried about a slow start out of the gate in what really amounts to season-long marathon? There are plenty of reasons that Laker Nation has a long, long time before hitting the panic button is necessary.

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Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The finger pointing begins.

At 0-3, the Lakers are off to their worst start in over 30 years. With this unusually slow start to a Lakers season, fans have started to play the blame game already.

Some have blamed the new offense for the team’s struggles, other have questioned the lack of production from the bench, and some have gone as far as blaming the team’s chemistry for the terrible start.

But in the midst of all the finger pointing, anger, and confusion, there is another person who also shares blame for the winless start: Mike Brown.

This is something Brown has become all too familiar with since joining the Laker family. Even before his first game as a Laker coach, the man dealt with criticism and controversy. Some of it was excessive, but some was earned.

After all, the coach has led the all-star filled Lakers to two consecutive seasons with at least an 0-2 start.  Since his reign, his teams have been stagnant offensively. To the surprise of many, even this year’s team has struggled to score despite the fact that the new Princeton Offensive was implemented to make the Lakers’ execution more fluid.

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.