Dwight Howard Feels No Pressure With Playoff Seed on the Line

by April 17, 2013

If the Los Angeles Lakers win tonight’s season finale against the visiting Houston Rockets, they’ll guarantee themselves a Playoff spot. Should they lose — and especially, if the Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies — they could be going home. According to Dwight Howard, there’s no need to feel any pressure despite this being such a huge game. Per the LA Times: “The Lakers’ season all comes down to Wednesday. By the end of the night, they will either have secured the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs, or they will have been eliminated. Without Kobe Bryant on the court, Dwight Howard knows that the team will be looking to him for leadership. ‘There’s no pressure,’ Howard said. ‘We understand the importance of the game but we just need to go play and be free. We don’t need to put pressure on ourselves. Just go have fun and win the game.’ Howard will need to shoulder a lot of the load on his already sore back. He acknowledged that recently there have been good days, and there have been some bad ones. […] Howard said that, all things considered, he thinks he’s had a strong season. ‘I will say that I don’t think a lot of people really understand the severity of a back injury and the fact that I came back and the fact that I look like I’m 100%,’ he said. ‘The back surgery is probably the worst surgery that you can have as a basketball player and for me to come back and play the way I’ve been playing is a blessing and people wouldn’t understand that from the outside looking in. But for me not being able to walk, then getting on the walker, then learning how to do all of that stuff again — to now, I think its a blessing and it’s all about hard work. Everything that I did up until this point is hard work.’ […] The Lakers center acknowledged that he has learned a lot from Bryant this season, including the need to always stay focused on the immediate task at hand. He demonstrated that skill at Tuesday’s practice when asked if Wednesday could potentially be his last game as a Laker. ‘Wow. OK, that’s a trick question,’ he said. ‘Listen, tomorrow is the last regular-season game for us and then we go into the playoffs.’ Howard added that he has the utmost confidence in his team. ‘We believe that we can do something special,’ Howard said. ‘If we get into the playoffs, we don’t fear anybody.'”