Dwight Howard’s weakness remains free throws. Hack-a-Howard still works! Houston’s $88 million center missed seven free throws in the final 3:24, enabling the Lakers to hang around long enough for Steve Blake to drain the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.3 left in a heart-stopping 99-98 victory on the road.
Naturally, the game-winning shot came over the outstretched arms of Howard – LA’s center last year – who was late switching on a pick. So in his first game against the team he left acrimoniously three months ago, Howard scored 15 points, collected 14 rebounds, but shot 5-for-16 from the free throw line and was a liability late at both ends.
Up 97-91 with 2:17 left, Howard clanged two free throws.
Up 98-93 with 2:04 left, Howard made one of two.
Then, the dagger:
Up 98-96 with under a minute to play, Howard bricked two, at which point groans ripped through the crowd, and even though none of his teammates said it, you know they were pissed.
So, how long until Kevin McHale is asked about whether or not he should have had Omer Asik (4-of-6 FTs) out there for Howard? Asik only shot 56 percent from the line last season, but he’s at 70 percent this year.