Dwight Howard Unable to Hit Free Throws in Loss to the Lakers

Late in the fourth quarter of a tight game, Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni employed a method that he absolutely hated when Dwight Howard was playing for him. Hack-a-Howard worked to perfection, even as the big fella clownishly tried to run away from the intentional fouls, and the Rockets went down in dramatic fashion. Per NBA.com: “There were those dozen free-throw attempts that the Lakers gave Howard in the fourth quarter that he might not have had more trouble getting down if he’d been trying to swallow logs. It was a 99-98 L.A. win in the first week of November that revealed precious little about how Howard’s old team or his new one will look in the meat of the schedule. But it was an opportunity for the Lakers to exorcise four months of abandonment feelings left by the only high profile star to ever pull up stakes and walk out on the NBA’s most glamorous franchise and it was a night for the Rockets to remember that though they won the $80-million free agent tug ‘o war, their prize doesn’t come without inherent flaws. ‘We’ll see them again,’ Howard said. ‘There’s so many emotions, we’d have to go through and array of stuff,’ said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. ‘We win on the road the first time. We beat a good team. We played better. I mean, down there somewhere, yeah, I’m human. It’s great (to beat Howard). He made his choice, which is good. You’ve got to respect that. He’s fine. They’re gonna have a great team and he’s a great player.’ However, in this game Howard was little more than average, scoring 15 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and looking confined and uncomfortable. […] A year ago, as Howard’s coach, D’Antoni chafed at the rules when opponents intentionally fouled his All-Star center when games were on the line. But with the Rockets wiping out a 19-point Laker lead and riding James Harden’s 35 points to surge in front midway through the fourth quarter, D’Antoni wasn’t at all averse to hacking the big man at every opportunity. Howard finished up shooting 5-for-16 on free throws for the night and was 5-for-12 in the fourth quarter. From the time the Lakers first hacked Howard with 3:24 left in the game, Harden never scored again. ‘I thought it went real well because we took Harden out of the game,’ D’Antoni said. ‘I think it worked pretty good. And he made foul shots. That’s about as good as he’ll do. “Harden’s tough to guard 1-on-1 and I’d rather have Dwight there instead of Harden. That’s not gonna work all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re not gonna use it if it’s out there. I’m not crazy. But if I could change it, I would probably change the rule.'”