Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at 9:00 am  |  54 responses

Mike D’Antoni Won’t Sit Dwight Howard During Hack-a-Dwight

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

It’s a familiar scene of late: the Los Angeles Lakers are locked in a tight game, and teams smartly begin to foul Dwight Howard, which then derails everything.

Howard missed 8 of 16 attempts from the charity stripe in Houston last night, and the Lakers lost their second in a row (dropping them to 1-5 on the road this season.)

Despite repeated calls from fans and media to take the big fella out when opponents start to Hack-a-Dwight in the fourth quarter, head coach Mike D’Antoni flatly disagrees with the suggestion. Not too surprisingly, so does Howard.

From the LA Times:

Howard was forced to answer the same questions he had two nights earlier, when the Orlando Magic employed the same tactic in another Lakers loss. Was he expecting to be fouled? How frustrating was it? What’s his take on that strategy? “Everybody’s trying to win,” said a subdued Howard, who made five of 10 free throws in the final minutes and eight of 16 overall.

“If they’re going to intentionally foul Dwight,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said, “we have to figure out how to try to use that to our advantage in some way.” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni was incredulous when a reporter relayed a question from Lakers fans who wondered why D’Antoni didn’t remove Howard from the game. “Because they have no clue what they’re talking about,” D’Antoni said. “It’s pretty simple. You don’t do that to a guy and he made his foul shots. He’s not the reason that our defense breaks down. He’s not the reason that stuff happens. He’s got to work through this. If you take him out now, then what are you going to do? Are you going to take him out all the time? You’ve got a player who’s going to be your franchise player, you don’t do that to him. And it’s not him that’s causing the problem.”

A bigger concern for the Lakers than Dwight Howard’s clanks from the free-throw line, is their atrocious fourth-quarter defense. They gave up 34 points to the Houston Rockets last night, after letting the Orlando Magic score 40 in the final period on Monday night.

Mike D’Antoni is counting on a healthy Steve Nash to help right this ship. Nash can certainly make his freebies and run the offense, but the team has growing concerns in many other areas.

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  • How many offseasons did this guy have to work on his freethrows? Its freaking pathetic..
    When you have a chance to become unstoppable then why dont you take that chance and train so hard to get better at the FT line.

  • http://twitter.com/SupermanayrB B!

    Stupid decision. That’s the difference between a great coach & a coach that thinks he’s good. Phil would’ve sat Dwight after seeing that the game was going their way. D’Antoni’s dumb for leaving him in, the Lakers are dumb for hiring D’Antoni.

  • Redd

    Then enjoy as you heck-a-lose.

  • Redd

    How do you know he didnt train? Deandre Jordan did too, he’s not any better. I hate when fans try to play like they understand and have direct access to what athletes and celebrities do.

  • Hursty

    As a Houston fan, I was absolutely ECSTATIC the Lakers changed nothing from their loss to Orlando. I know that sounds very smug and gleeful (it is), but really, that repetition is what let Houston back into the game. They had absolutely no business winning it.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    Shaq said he practiced all the time. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. Imagine having to throw a tennis ball into a basketball goal 20 times. That’s what Shaq was basically trying to do with those huge hands. Same with Dwight. They’re not really built for finesse. It’s not all that easy. Dwight’s entire game has improved the past couple of seasons. Everything except his free throw shooting. I highly doubt that he worked on everything else except that part of his game.

  • Hursty

    Some reasons Houston won that game:

    1, Dwight sucks at FT’s.

    2, Houston was monstrous on the offensive glass

    3, Kelvin Sampson went with the team that was meshing well, giving them the chance to win the game after the starters and primary bench guys hadn’t done the work.

    4, Lakers played no defense at all. Kobe just.. urgh. He doesn’t lock & trail defensively. Just jogs around screens. Forced Dwight and Jamison (ha) to hedge further on baseline off-ball screens and step out further from the key, meaning the Rockets got more chances to get on the glass after shots went up (Laker bigs weren’t in rebounding position). Numerous times Houston got a lay-up off a high-low or cross-pick action since the Laker bigs couldn’t recover quick enough.

    5, Lakers had ceased ball movement in the 4th, even before Hack-A-Howard. Kobe, Kobe and more Kobe.

    6, After Howard shot FT’s, the Lakers should’ve been set up defensively. Instead, they tried to rebound the ball after FT’s. WHY. Houston smartly pushed the ball up court, catching Artest and Duhon off guard since most teams don’t really run the ball up court late in the 4th.

    7, LA didn’t learn from the Orlando loss. They knew DH would be fouled, but did nothing to prepare for it. They didn’t utilise their time-outs. Set up offensive plays, substitute players if necessary, remind guys their roles on defense. Try and regain their momentum and control on the game. Bad coaching. Bad, bad, bad.

    8, Greg Smith had the game of his life. 21 (7/8 field, 7/8 ft line), 9rbds, 2 blocks, 25 minutes.

    9, Rockets sucked the Laker momentum, had the home crowd, played harder and had better coaching, even with their 2 guards (Lin, Harden) shooting a combined 5/27 from the field, and their top reserve having no field goals (Morris).

  • spit hot fiyah

    laker haters must be enjoying life right now

  • dwade flops so hard

    pay me a million bucks and i will learn how to make 100% of free throws. LA gave him an assload and he cant even master a free shot from close range? pathetic

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    I agree with this, except for point 5. If you recall, the Lakers were up 10-12 at the end of the 4th. Kobe and Dwight played a great 3rd quarter, and left it up to the reserves to hold the lead down til they checked back in. they promptly allowed Houston to cut it to 2. Kobe checked back in, and, presumeably pissed off that the bench couldn’t hold it down, started trying to beat Houston himself. He couldn’t give it to Dwight because they were just going to foul him (nor was he establishing post position), and his other companions out on the court were Chris Duhon, Antawn Jamison, etc, who he had seen suck when they were playing with the bench unit.The one or two times that Kobe gave up the ball in the 4th, Duhon (or was it Jamison?) turned it over or missed the shot.

    By that time, Hack-a-Dwight had begun, and didn’t stop until about a minute left, at which point the Lakers were trailing. Kobe couldn’t give the ball to Dwight as they would just foul him, and he refused to pass to Jamison, etc. So he chucked it. He made the 3 to bring them within one with 10 seconds left, but unfortunately missed the buzzer beater.

    Sadly, Metta had a WIDE OPEN CHANCE to lay in the tip in, but he chose to do a fadeaway layup instead.

    I’m not saying this loss didn’t fall on Kobe’s shoulder’s defensively (it did – he left Douglas open in the corner for two threes), but offensively, he had no reason to trust his teammates. The guy was so frustrated with the bench, he didn’t even pass Jamison the ball on a wide open two on one.

  • Hursty

    True, I agree for the most part. But Houston didn’t start deliberately fouling until 3.12 left in the 4th. Kobe and Dwight came back into the game at 6.11 with the Lakers up 7. Dwight didn’t shoot deliberate FT’s until the 3.12 mark. Between that time, Kobe took every shot the Lakers had the ball (when they didn’t turn it over).

  • uqk

    sometimes it’s just mental…
    wilt could shoot free throws during practice/scrimmage..
    but awful during games

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Nick Tha Quick

    If only there was another Lakers big sans pants who could his make free throws.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    the huge hands thing is such a total and complete myth.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    At some point, Pau has to be thinking “…I can make those.”

  • https://twitter.com/Wayne__o BuenoWayno1

    Somewhere Mike Brown is smiling.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    That’s probably cause they have no other centre that can actually hit free throws. Who else they got? Jordan Hill? Robert Sacre? Sacre was decent in college but hasn’t played much. Pau could but he’s out.

  • BS Shaq also said in interviews that he hardly put in extra work in the off season or after practises because he didnt need it.. When you get 15 mil a year or whatever you make sure you get your FT’s taken care of. Break down your shot and start over or try to take your shots a step behind the ft line (that is what i do). Hire a coach every offseason instead of working with Olajuwon on your offensive moves :S
    @ Redd how long has Deandre Jordan been in this league and how long has Dwight been? Have you seen the improvement from DJ in his offense game (postup moves) and that after 1 summer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    He really really should have subbed out Howard for Jordan Hill when this was happening. Hill had been playing great off the bench in the 4th.

  • Max

    Freethrows are all about confidence and repetition with the right mechanics.
    If you dont have confidence in them, you’ll miss alot, if your mechanics are wrong, you will never shoot the exact same shot and your muscles wont have the needed muscle memory.
    Dwight should’ve changed his shooting mechanics before he entered the NBA..

  • KC

    Anyone can shoot free throws if they commit to it and practice. Large hands are not an excuse as there have been plenty of 7 footers who shoot them well. Dwight’s entire game could be much better and we all know it. He cant shoot, has below average post moves and not much ball handling or passing ability. He gets by on his athleticism the same way shaq did. Lock yourself in the gym and master your craft. Plain and simple

  • bringbackthesonics

    his ft% has dropped 13% in the last 2 seasons, keeping him in the 4th is gonna do more harm than good

  • CP7

    ever heard of yao ming? Big hands, Great Shooter for a big

  • Caboose

    There were also times when Wilt didn’t give a f*ck.

  • Caboose

    Enjoying your new franchise cornerstone, LA?

  • Junior Taylor

    The blow of Howard missing so many FTs would be softened if the guy dominated the game the same way terrible FT shooting big men like Shaq and Wilt used to do but the guy can’t even score consistently on the block while being guarded by the likes of Omer Asik and Nikola Vucevic? Come on son.

  • RayJr

    Ok we all know Dwight is a liability at the line but whats better?…A Dwight Howard that is playing and can’t shoot free throws or an Andrew Bynum who is turning into a head case and probably won’t even play this year at all? I still believe the Lakers pulled the right move.

  • Corky

    There is no rational way that a professional basketball player with his (obvious) high level of hand eye coordination and physical ability should be this poor of a shooter.

    If he is training, he is doing it piss poorly. I suspect his ego doesn’t allow him to admit his shooting technique is all wrong. And besides, he’s a mutli-millionaire even while shooting his bricks. Why should he care anyway?

  • Corky

    Exactly. Shaq was infamous for showing up to training camp fat and out of shape. He (and Dwight) “practice” like most poor basketball player practice. Either they think they know it all or they continue repeating their same piss poor technique.

    Howard looks like he is shooting a bowling ball.

  • LakeShow


  • Caboose

    No. Greg F*cking Smith dominated him.

  • Guest
  • hoodsnake


  • shutup

    Are expectations still a Chip or bust?

  • T-man

    I remember Phil Jackson telling Shaq to shoot his free throws like Rick Barry. Shaq didn’t want to be embarrassed so he didn’t do it. Dwight should consider it! By any means necessary.

  • LeroyShonuff

    Actually DeAndre has gotten better in his all around game. Dwight hasn’t. Even with free throws he has gotten better and shown improved form. Not direct access but you can clearly see who has gotten better and who hasn’t

  • LeroyShonuff

    Shaq killed when it mattered, Dwight never has.

  • showtime

    This is getting very comical….

  • LakeShow

    When aren’t they?

  • Redd

    So how long you been his psychiatrist? Cause I assume he told you his ego won’t let him admit he can’t shoot it right? How else would you know his being. The rest of us including Dwight know his shooting sucks cause he doesn’t shoot or hit FTs.

  • MasterSplinter

    Yeah Dirk has a horrible time shooting….. the big hands thing is a myth for sure.

  • melvin mulanthara

    I’m absolutely loving how the Lakers and Dwight are collapsing this season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    then how do you explain Dwight’s horrible FT shooting?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    it has to be because he is a mental midget….I mean his FT % has steadily decreased nearly every year of his career…HE SHOT 67% HIS ROOKIE YEAR FOR GOD’s SAKE

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Kobe’s strategy for using Hack-a-Dwight to their advantage is to shoot it at half-court when the whistle blows.

  • Max

    Hah that’s a great answer..

  • Corky

    I’ve been his psychiatrist for exactly 0 hours.

    How long have you been his (unpaid) PR person?

    My main statement was that he is training wrong (which is plainly obvious) then I (clearly) gave my opinion on the source of his troubles based on the disconnect between his evident physical and basketball skill compared to his freethrow shooting. I didn’t make a statement of fact.

  • Redd

    He just can’t shoot, centers tend to be that way. Perhaps there conditioned to dunk or post up since high school because they’re tall and thus find shooting to be minuscule.

  • Corky
  • Redd

    PR? How does PR have anything to do with his shooting? How are you saying a professional athlete is training wrong? By saying that you’ve lost all right to argue with me.

    That was idiotic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000300292425 Denine Romero Garbiso

    Phil sat Shaq at the end of games for the same reason. D’Antoni is kissing Dwight’s rear end. Jimmy Buss would be ticked if Dwight leaves at season end & fire D’Antoni. “It’s pretty simple. You don’t do that to a guy” – Coach D’Antoni had no problem sitting Pau in the 4th. Sorry L.A. I love ya, but Jimmy Buss messed up by not going with Phil. Not our year by a long shot, and The Kobester can kiss the dream of catching up to MJ goodbye. Too bad, could’ve been a great year.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Gilbert/100001749589586 Mike Gilbert

    How do explain his steady drop in FT% since his rookie year, where he shot 67%? And don’t give me the BS about how FT% is not something big men can work to get better at. Karl Malone was a bad FT shooter early in his career before he put in the work and became a good one.

  • Drig’r

    You did Laker Nation proud!

  • LakeShow

    The season is definitely already over.