Mike D’Antoni Plans On Playing Dwight Howard Late In Games
By now, everyone following the NBA knows that Dwight Howard has had more than his fair share of troubles at the free throw line. His 48% shooting from the charity stripe have caused teams to employ “Hack-a-Dwight” from time to time, forcing Howard to beat them from the free throw line.
With this in mind, many have wondered if Mike D’Antoni should play Howard late in games, particularly when the Lakers need a three pointer. The concern is that if Dwight gets the ball, the other team will simply foul, knowing that the chances are good that Howard only makes one of two, thus putting the Lakers in a tough decision.
According to D’Antoni, this isn’t a concern, and he will continue to play his star center down the stretch. Via the LA Times:
Some coaches might have pulled Howard off the court to give the Lakers four or five shooters. Instead, D’Antoni said he’ll live and die with Howard on the floor.
“I’m not taking Dwight out. He’s too valuable. You take him out, like when they did hack-a-Shaq at the end … then defensively we can’t stop anybody,” said D’Antoni. “He’ll make his foul shots. I’ve got faith in him. If everybody plays hard and if that’s how we go down, then we’ll go down that way.”
On plays where the team needs a three, D’Antoni isn’t concerned about Howard getting caught with the ball — and sent to the free-throw line.
“We know how to get around that,” he said. “That’s not a big deal.”
Taking Dwight Howard off the floor in these situations might be an option if Pau Gasol was healthy enough to fill the void with D12 on the bench. But with the way this team currently is, the Lakers don’t have the capacity to bench such a dominant player at the end of games.
Who is going to play center? Earl Clark?