Dwight Howard wasn’t his usually playful self in the L.A Lakers’ locker room. He refused to answer certain questions and shared few private thoughts about his ugly reunion with the Orlando Magic.
”It wasn’t emotional,” Howard said.
Maybe that was a part of the issue – and one reason the Magic left the reunion with their biggest win of the season.
Arron Afflalo scored 30 points, Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the Magic beat Howard’s Lakers in their 1st game against their longtime center, 113-103.
Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds against his former team, but the rebuilding Magic rallied impressively with a 40-point 4th quarter for just their 4th win in 14 games, snapping a 3-game skid. Orlando pulled the upset partly by intentionally fouling Howard, who went 9 for 21 at the line – including 7 for 14 in the 4th quarter.
The Orlando Magic made their decisive 12-2 run while Howard wasn’t helping the Lakers at the line in the final minutes, with Nelson and J.J. Redick hitting 3-pointers on the way.
Howard’s 1st few months with the Lakers haven’t gone the way he might have expected after the 4-team, 12-player trade in August: a sub-.500 record, a shocking coaching change, an injured point guard and a unsightly amplification of Howard’s career-long woes at the free-throw line, where he has dropped to 46.5 percent (87 for 187) for the season.
”As a team, our effort wasn’t there,” Howard said. ”We have to start the game with energy and play the whole game the same way. We didn’t do that tonight, and they capitalized on it and they were given a win.”
Howard left the court after the game without shaking hands with the Magic – not that he has many close friends left in blue pinstripes anyway. Magic has new coach Jacque Vaughn, a new front-office staff and just 5 players who played with Howard.
”Let Dwight be Dwight. If he wants to walk off the court, it’s cool,” said Davis, who overlapped with Howard only last season in Orlando, ”no hard feelings. He lost. I’d feel bad, too. I would not want to shake nobody’s hand. We weren’t even actually pondering him. We just wished to get this win. I didn’t talk with him. I’m here to play basketball. I’m not here to be buddies.”
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points for the Los Angeles Lakers, who dropped to 3-4 under new coach Mike D’Antoni with another inconsistent performance featuring deficient defense. Metta World Peace scored 15 points and Pau Gasol added 11 for the Lakers, who went back to poor form only 2 nights after a 122-point effort in a blowout win over Denver Nuggets.
Howard spent the past 8 years as the face of the Orlando franchise since the Magic plucked him out of his Atlanta high school with the 1st pick in the 2004 draft. He made 6 All-Star teams and won the NBA’s defensive player of the year award three times, leading the Magic to the 2009 NBA finals during 5 straight playoff appearances. Basketball lines