As Dwight’s Shot Attempts And Scoring Sway, He Focuses On Other Aspects





DALLAS – Before Saturday’s game in Dallas, one night after the ugly loss at Memphis, the second such defeat on the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-game road trip, Dwight Howard was as chipper as a kid out of school for Thanksgiving break.

He was smiling broadly while boasting of the feast he says he prepared earlier in the week at his home in Bel Air for his parents and a smattering of teammates.

“I’m a chef. When I put on my glasses, I’m good,” Howard said, adjusting the Clark Kent-styled spectacles he wore while bare-chested in the visitor’s locker room. “I made collared greens, chitlins, yam patties. You know what yam patties are? The whole nine yards.”

The same bare-chested, chuckling, 6-foot-11 center basked in the post-game locker room banter, too, kicking back with a plate piled high with barbecue Mavericks owner Mark Cuban graciously provides his guests — even after eviscerating his team. The Lakers had finally enjoyed an elusive collective effort and destroyed the Mavs from the start, 115-89.

“I made this, too,” Howard said, lifting up his plate of brisket and sausage, spurring further doubt to just how hands-on he really was with that Thanksgiving meal.

One thing is for sure on this star-studded Lakers team: Howard’s hands won’t be on the ball, from game to game, as much as he was accustomed to throughout his career as the No. 1 scoring option with the Orlando Magic.

Kobe Bryant drove that point home after Saturday’s win pulled slow-starting L.A. to 7-7, leaving no doubt what will change most once point guard Steve Nash, longtime orchestrator of Mike D’Antoni‘s up-tempo system, returns from a fracture to his left leg.

“I’ll be scoring a lot more when Nash gets back,” Bryant said. “I won’t have to facilitate as much and it will allow me to do what I do best, and that’s put the ball in the hole.”

That would suggest an uptick in Bryant’s shot attempts, even though his 247 through 14 games (17.6 a game) is 74 more than second-leading shot-taker Pau Gasol, who has already questioned the number of jumpers the offense dictates for him. Bryant has taken 94 more shots than Howard, even though the vast majority of shots for arguably the NBA’s strongest specimen come within arm’s length of the rim.

On Saturday, Howard scored 15 points. Although he’s averaging 18.0 points a game, right at his career average, it was already the fifth time this season that he’s scored 15 points or fewer. He took 11 shots against Dallas, which is, somewhat surprisingly, also right at his career average of 11.2. However, those 11 shots equaled his total attempts in the two previous games when he took just four and seven, and combined to score just 11 points.

“It’s not tough right now, all that stuff will change,” Howard said of his varying shot attempts on a team that starts Kobe, Gasol, Metta World Peace and, at some point, Nash. “The biggest thing for me is affect the game in other ways and not just really focus on the touches. I think when I try to focus too much on how many touches I need, I don’t play the way I need to play. So I know what I have to do, what I need to do for us to win.”

Already this season Howard has taken nine or fewer shots in a game five times. That happened all of nine times in 54 games last season. At this rate, it’ll happen close to 30 times this season. He’s taken as many as 18 shots in 39 minutes and as few as four shots in 41 minutes. He’s already had three games of scoring in single digits, a number that already equals last season’s total, and three games scoring at least 28 points.

All are clear indicators of how shot attempts and point totals on this team of All-Stars will sway nightly.

“You don’t focus on that. As long as we’re winning, as long as I’m controlling the paint on the defensive end and dictating the way we play on offense, you know I don’t have to score,” Howard said. “I can get everybody involved by just running the floor, setting screens, rolling hard, getting in the paint, forcing everybody (defenses) to come in, and then we have shooters.”

It’s a problem every player on 29 other teams would love to have, which is probably why all the while, Howard never stopped smiling.

14 Comments

  1. al haldie says:

    COACH –NOT A COMMENT BUT A QUESTION—WOULD U DO TO KOBE WHAT U DID TO PAU-BECAUSE KOBE HAS HAD GAMES SOMETHING LIKE THAT WHERE HE SOOTS AND SHOOTS AND SHOOTS AND NOT REALY HELPING THE TEAM TURN OVER TURN OVER JUST LIKE LAST GAME AGINST THE MAV 6 T.O.==WOULD U SET HIM DOWN IN THE FOURTH….DO U HAVE AN ANSWER..LAKER FAN

  2. AJ says:

    Lakers are going to get better over a period of time. By Mid season Lakers are going to be a team to beat “if” everybody stays healthy. As dwight mentioned he should not be worried about his touches as Nash is going to get him some and he is always going to get the garbage buckets. As long as he stays defensively active which was lacking last year from Bynum in numerous games, we are good.

    Biggest difference in this years team from last year is Metta. If he plays the way he is, then opposition teams cannot leave him open the way they were doing last 2 years. Also, Jamison, man! he is on fire. Lets se if he can be consistent.

    Lakers are going to be a championship team if they can defend.

  3. Laith says:

    Dwight is playing phenomenal, givin’ the situation. I think people forget that he didn’t just have hemroid removed, he underwent major back surgery, a team change, and a coaching/system change. In a month or two when he is completely 100% watch out, because he is going to be one very bad man!

  4. gman says:

    Last night’s blowout against the Mavs is a glimpse on how scary the Lakers could be.

  5. The Whining Lakerland Fans says:

    The “whining” Lakerland fans are back on the wagon again. The Lakers won and obliterated the Mavs. They scored a bunch of points. Mike” D’Antoni is coach of the year. UNTIL the Lakers lose the next few games and the “whining” Lakerland fans are ready to trade Pau, say kobe is too old and fire the coach and bring back phil. When the Lakers win, all the “whining” fans say “we won,” like they’re the 16th man on the bench. When the Lakers lose, “trade him, fire him.” Take an advice for me, pull back the “whining” because this is what happens when the Lakers have new players on the team. You have to set the foundations before you build the rest of the house.

  6. Andrew Millis says:

    Well Dwight is still a great offensive player but he has Kobe on his team & he likes the ball in his hands most of the time so Dwight should’ve known his shot attempts were going to go down playing along side Kobe. I still think that Bynum is a better offensive player than Dwight is but not on the defensive end, Dwight definitely has the edge there. Dwight is still getting used to the system they have there in L.A. & now an even newer system in D’Antoni’s system where he focuses much more on offense than defense & that’s what I think is going to hurt the Lakers later in the season. Because if they meet OKC in the Western Conf Finals they’ll have no answer for Durant & Westbrook who are scoring machines & that’s why I don’t see the Lakers in the Finals this year.

    • Mister 215 says:

      Well Andrew Millis, if you knew anything about basketball then you will know that the issue is not Westbrook and Durant, it’s the rest of the team. Those two players will get their numbers, that’s why they are superstars. You can’t stop a superstar, you can just contain them. Also, as you can see in the Finals Durant was putting up numbers and Westbrook (Durant more so). That didn’t stop the heat from winning the championship. It all amounts to who wants it more.

  7. Dirty D says:

    And don’t forget that Steve Nash being back will account for at least 6 to 8 points a game for him. On just pick and roll and having a lob capable guard out there. That alone will take him from 13 – 16 ppg to 18 to 24 ppg.

  8. Dirty D says:

    Two things determine his offensive freedom and touches. 1. the shooters if Metta, Jamison, and Meeks can become consistent. They will require attention and there for open up the floor for him. And his physical shape. Once he’s 100% and being dominate again he will be more productive with the opportunities he has now. You can’t just count his shot attempts. You have to account for all the times they just slap the ball out of his hands or foul.

  9. punnyjr says:

    the thing about big men is if the other team decide to double or triple team in low post. they can barely score and that’s what happened recently.

    • LakersWillWin says:

      You are absolutely right. Dwight has become very vulnerable to being stripped as well. Hopefully it is something he spends a lot of time on.

    • kobe-vick says:

      Umm they will get it together

    • Haydz says:

      thats kind of the point of a dominant big man. Draw the D into the paint to open up the spot up shooters at the 3 point arc. Its one of the main reasons Dwight is a good C – he doesnt even need to shoot to affect the offense.