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Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash publicly called out Dwight Howard for not playing through pain yesterday.Last night, the hits kept coming when Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni announced to the media that Howard has been medically cleared to play all along. From Kevin Ding of the OC Register:
“He’s been (medically) cleared for a while. … He felt better today. That’s why he played.”
Tim Layman of the Boston Herald reports that D’Antoni said, “He’s cleared. He’s always been cleared.”
Howard missed three-straight games before last night with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
He returned from injury last night and looked noticeably out of it. He was reluctant to contest shots at the rim on defence, and he couldn’t get going on offence.
Interestingly, D’Antoni kept Howard in the game late in the fourth quarter when the Lakers were down by 25 — almost as a message that there’s no reason Dwight shouldn’t be playing.
The Lakers have essentially fabricated this controversy out of thin air. It’s not the fans or the media that are publicly clamoring for Dwight to man up and play through pain, it’s the Lakers players and coaches themselves.
Even if they privately feel like Dwight should be playing, what could they possibly have to gain by stirring up yet another overblown melodrama?
The Lakers are now 3.5 games out of a playoff spot.
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