The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in a back-and-forth contest at the Staples centre in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s debut.
Yet Dwight Howard’s struggles at the free-throw line made things interesting in the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn head coach Avery Johnson consistently fouled Howard beginning in the final stanza, forcing the inept free throw shooter to the line. It was a strategy that paid off for the Nets as Howard began the final quarter shooting 1-of-6 from the stripe as the Nets lurched out to a six-point lead.
The strategy nearly paid off, but Kobe Bryant was able to right the ship, scoring eight points down the stretch to nullify Howard’s putrid 3-of-10 mark at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
But Howard told ESPN Los Angeles he’s not worried about the free throw shooting:
“We won … I just got to keep playing, no matter how many free throws I miss or make. Just not allow that to affect me on the defensive end, or just being aggressive on offence. The free throws will come. I want to keep shooting them. I keep practicing them every day and they’re going to start falling.”
There’s little doubt that the “Hack-a-Dwight” strategy is something that the Lakers are going to have to deal with moving forward this season.
It harks back to when the strategy originally surfaced when Shaquille O’Neal was on the Lakers. All Howard needs to worry about is hitting one of the two shots, which is still efficient for an offensive possession. Howard was 7-of-19 on the game last night, which is the kind of performance that could be detrimental at some point this season.
Here’s a highlight that epitomizes Howard’s struggles at the free throw line last night:
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