Howard Feels The Red Mamba Tweaks


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SAN ANTONIO — The Black Mamba didn’t tweet. Something about not wanting to be a distraction.

So Kobe Bryant sat at home again on the sofa in Orange County, this time resting his surgically repaired Achilles’ tendon and both his thumbs.

The Red Mamba did tweak. And jostle. And shove. And pull. And prod. It was all about being as bothersome as a mosquito at a nudist colony.

Matt Bonner never rested for even a single one of the 29 minutes that he had to contest, confront and confound Dwight Howard.

The Lakers All-Star center scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots, but also picked up five fouls and a technical in another one of those nights when he did so much head-shaking that you wondered if it might fall right off his broad and muscular shoulders.

This is life without Kobe for the Lakers, nobody to bail them out at the end of difficult possessions or do some of the improbable things that might make the Spurs defense loosen up and have to guard the perimeter.

There were times in the first half of Game 2 when Howard was a monster at both ends of the floor, muscling inside for rugged buckets and trying to swat down any shot that the Spurs tried. He snarled after rejecting a Tim Duncan shot and he roared after making back-to-back rejections on Tony Parker.

But Howard also went up for an offensive rebound and swung a hard right elbow that caught Bonner square on his face and sent him to the floor like a bag of rocks.

The red-haired Bonner wore a sheepish smile and a red welt as he stood in front of his locker.

“You knock me down, I’ll keep getting up,” said Bonner.

Call it the Chumbawamba defense. Maybe that’s why none other than Kobe himself bestowed the nickname Red Mamba.

Or maybe it was the 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting — including another running one-hander — dubbed the “Shyhook” by the wags of the Internet.

“Matty’s a tough-minded individual,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “He’s a heck of a competitor and a great team guy. He’ll do whatever we ask him to do. I think his family worries about him and the things we ask him to do out there.”

Some of those things are the kind that could have future generations of Bonner’s family watching video of him getting abused by the likes of Howard.

“He’s really strong, really good, can jump really high,” Bonner said. “I’m just doing my best trying not to make the top 10 by getting dunked on.”

What he’s doing is whatever he can — grabbing Howard by both shoulders from behind to try to stop him from scoring, giving him a little shove in the lower back to throw him off balance, slapping at his wrists, tugging on his jersey or just stepping into his path to let him know that he’s always there.

When Howard was asked if Bonner got under his skin, he replied tersely: “No, he didn’t.”

But here he was barking at Bonner as he came off the bench out of a timeout. There Howard was flapping his arms and complaining to a referee when the Red Mamba’s nettling defense resulted in another offensive foul.

“I’m not out there trying to frustrate anybody,” Bonner said. “If it got chippy, I didn’t notice.”

Despite the fact that Parker danced to a 24-point second half, this series has been anything but a waltz for the Spurs. It’s been rough, physical and their top two guns — Parker and Duncan — are shooting a combined 31-for-74 (.419) and yet the Spurs have a 2-0 lead because they have been able to stifle the Lakers’ inside game with double-teams and a guy from New Hampshire who looks like a lumberjack.

“If you see that (matchup) on paper, you may think that he has no shot, of course,” said Manu Ginobili. “He did a wonderful job fronting him, bothering him with activity and behind him we are there to help him.”

Every time Howard tried to zig, Bonner was there to zag. When Howard spun, Bonner poked. When Howard dribbled, Bonner prodded. When Howard tried to inhale, Bonner’s task was to try to take up all the oxygen.

As the Laker bodies — Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace — continue to break down, it puts more and more pressure on Howard to rise up and carry the load. It’s the kind of burden that can test a player’s limits, take him to the edge and it becomes easier and easier for the likes of Bonner to shove him right over.

Kobe might not tweet anymore in the series, but Bonner will keep right on tweaking.

“No, it’s not fun,” said the Red Mamba.

But very effective.

65 Comments

  1. Stephisbeast says:

    Lakers shouldn’t have even been in the playoffs. This is what you get for screwing Utah out of the playoffs, dumb refs. Spurs 4- 0.

  2. Tyler says:

    Go Matt! I still wear my Red Mamba shirt from all star break ALL THE TIME!!!

  3. DR BBAL says:

    Coach, Kobe, Dwight, don’t make excuses. i would like to see te lakers win to, but it is everyone’s fault.

    not just the coach not just Dwight not just kobe(kobe’s injury i am talking about).
    The lakers are going nowhere now, i hope a player will sign in free agency with the lakers (if there is enough money to hire another star) and that guy will take the franschice on his back.

    I hope that is what happens, but i dont think so( just fantasy)

    It would be great

    (not a laker fan just a basketball fan who likes to see someone else than the heat win)
    (a little bit of a heat hater sorry)

  4. Brian says:

    Red Rocket … Red Mamba … Red Kryptonite?

    • alex c says:

      red kryptonite sounds like the best to me, didnt red kryptonite make superman age and become weak? lol

  5. Warchild says:

    I guess Shaq is right about Dwight, he’s nothing compared to the Big Diesel. If LA wants to improve, trade Dwight to the mediocre teams that can enjoy his presence. As for Kobe, i think he should consider a career change. He’s better writing stupid commentaries, Kobe is such a cry baby… that’s why you will never get your 2nd MVP because of your attitude.

  6. Big Al says:

    Just how in the world did Bonner get the name Red Mamba? A player that only knows three-pointers doesn’t deserve any nickname.

    Please Dwight, don’t get affected by what this moron says. Don’t be like LeBron who gave in to the Jason Terry trash-talking in the 2010 finals.

    • alex c says:

      Big Al, Kobe himself nicknamed matt the RED MAMBA and only three’s? have you not been watching matt bonnors hook shots over dwight and pau or his defensive plays or his ability to get elbowed in the face hard by dwight only to get right back up and smile in his face and come right back and score on him? me thinks you don’t watch the games and if you do you only see what you wanna see……

  7. Sunny says:

    I have a feeling that the Spurs are going to lose in the second round.

  8. Stan says:

    This Laker coach is the worst I have ever seen… He keeps using the same useless players like Meeks, and Jamison off the bench while Devin Ebanks never got any playing time. LAKERS NEED A NEW COACH. This coach is a loser where ever he goes he got fired from N.Y. and Phonix for being a bum that can’t win so why would the Lakers use him? Need new coaching blood like Scott Brooks, not the same useless losers like D’Antoni.

  9. theholyspectator says:

    ahh the age of lakers not winning anymore, time to get used to this

  10. LALA says:

    @lakers #24 Exactly.

  11. OKCKD35 says:

    HMMM OKC is up 2-0, no articles about them on the hang time blog, yet 3 articles about Kobe Tweeting, what has this blog become?

  12. digitioli says:

    Eaglos is right.
    D’Antoni has no plan and let Kobe run himself into the ground while not developing a style of play that suits the players on the team. How’s hero ball working now? They should have stuck with Bernie Bickerstaff and things would be night and day.
    Howard 16 and 9 ain’t gonna get it done. He got worked by Bonner and he’s still smiling at the post game interview?! Dude. You have zero competitive spirit or a clue about how to win. You have hands of stone and no shot. 4 blocks – how many did you retain possession on? Smile when you win the championship (you never will) otherwise, it’s an insult to any fan base – especially one that is used to winning. Go back and look at tape of the smiley-est guy ever to play in the NBA, Magic. Post game after a loss – he doesn’t smile because he knows it’s completely inappropriate. He was serious. A leader. He’s questioning his own play and talking about what HE can do to change the outcome in the next game. That’s what a professional does. Having fun playing is doing EVERYTHING you can to win. Practice your pathetic free throw shooting. Practice catching the ball in the low post – that is your responsibility. Get open. Get some work in with the guys who are supposed to get you the ball down low. You still look like you don’t even know your team mates, and you don’t care. Just don’t smile about it jerk weed.

  13. W/E says:

    Lakers have no future with this roster and current coach,D’antoni is an AWFULL coach Popovich is OWNING him BIG TIME the guy is hopeless doesnt know what to do when the situation calls for good plays he got no game plan cant make adjustements suitable for his teams roster, he just relies on guys like Kobe or Nash back in his prime making miraculous plays..when Lakers release him he should just retire.

  14. 3s2ng says:

    My Bonner is tougher than Howard. (No pun intended)

  15. 3s2ng says:

    My Bonner is tougher than Howard.

  16. Fefe (Nets) says:

    Why does everybody makes it sound like the Lakers would have won the 2 games if Kobe were here?

    Don’t they remember that the Lakers went 2-0 after his injury, to secure a playoff berth? Don’t they remember that he played nearly all the games this season, yet the Lakers struggled all year long to get to the playoffs???

    Of course, without Kobe, the Lakers would have had a worse year. Nevertheless, to say that Kobe was the reason for all the wins and that HE was the only one carrying the team, is totally an illusion. He also has a part of responsibility in the team’s stuggle. That said, I personnally think that the Spurs would still be 2-0 with Kobe on the floor. Of course, with Kobe, the chances to win the series would shoot up; but I still think that they would have lost to the Spurs.

    Anyway the series in not over. At 2-0, everything is possible for the Lakers.

    With that being said, go Spurs!

  17. Dwight aint Shaq says:

    Dwight is scoring 16 points, its not gonna cut it. 16 points should be our 6th man Jamison, but Jamison is also scoring 6 points a game in the playoffs. No Jodie Meeks, no shot creation, Blake is playing well and should have been starter over Nash, not both together. Nash is playing like a reserve, we should use him like that. Clark 6 points, later….

    We aint making it like this, no scoring, Dwight and Pau are not elevating their game to playoff standards. Shaq always took the playoffs to another level, scoring and rebounding more. The Mamba is what we needed, but since he’s gotta recover could somebody please step up?

    Ginobli is teaching the Lakers how to play.

    Just a miracle, i still believe it!

    Bless the Laker Lords!

  18. bel says:

    kobe does not want lakers to win this years’ title. It will make him unimportant. Imagine lakers winning without kobe? thats’ a slap in his face.

  19. w500 says:

    lakers is gona be sweep getting 50 M more in salary than spurs

  20. w500 says:

    lakers is gona be sweep getting 50 M more than spurs in salaries

  21. SpursFan says:

    Lakers are gonna win at least 1 game in LA. Dwight Howard may not get away with elbowing someone in the face on home court, but all the sneaky shoves in the back while people are in the air and lowering his shoulder to bulldoze people aren’t going to be called on his home court. Worried about injuries if they do let him play like he was unchecked.

  22. sick says:

    ByE-bYe Lakers… Lol

  23. Angelica says:

    Stand UP LAKERS

  24. Big Jebb says:

    almost sad watching the demise of the lakers——ALMOST GO SPURS THE THUNDER WANT YOU !

  25. LakerDUDE32 says:

    ALL THIS POSTSEASON SHOWS IS THAT DWIGHT HOWARD IS A BIG BABY WHIMP. IF SHAQ WAS AT HIS PRIME AND KOBE WENT DOWN SHAQ WOULD EASILY SCORE 40 POINTS A GAME DOMINATING THE PAINT AND MAKING A GUY LIKE MATT BONNER?!?!?! LOOK LIKE A WNBA PLAYER TRYING TO DEFEND HIM. DWIGHT HOWARD HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND DOES NOTHING WITH IT! ITS FRUSTRATING TRYING TO WATCH HIM PLAY. TRADE HIM TO SOME SCRUB TEAM AND LET HIM CRY HIS WAY TO A BIG CONTRACT OUT OF LA.

    • W/E says:

      theres no comparison there, Shaq was so much better than Dwight,bigger stronger better Shaq was terrorising and burning teams inside the paint, contrary Dwight is so weak on the offensive end. A 27 year old Shaq would score like 60 points on a weak undersized guy like Bonner good lord D12 is so bad.

  26. André says:

    SPURS 4 X 0 LAKERS!

  27. lakers #24 says:

    Lakers just had a bad start
    we are gonna win the next to games no matter what
    we are playing in LA the next 2 games
    in our home city
    we are going tgo cream them spurs
    we are gonna show them who is boss

  28. KOBE FAN says:

    we are gonna win next 2 games for the black mamba

  29. Without Kobe Bryant in the line up and the injuries to some players, my team the Lakers will hard to win. But there are no excuses. This is a frustrating year for us. But I can still say Go Lakers.

    Ray
    Ray Duque III (GMBD), USA

  30. robfrot says:

    I think the Lakers could’ve won this with Kobe – despite their poor season they were rounding into form. But it’s hard to see a way back from this now.

  31. Mariusz says:

    Does anybody know why T-MAC was inactive again? Except Pop.

    • W/E says:

      Cause Pop wants him to get a ring with his team i guess. He didnt even had time to pracitce with the spurs lol.

    • VC15toVC25 says:

      I think it’s more like they’re preserving him if he is needed to go… Remember, the Spurs entered the playoffs with uncertainty if Manu or Parker would be effective… T-Mac’s become an insurance policy for the Spurs if the time comes for him to be called up by Pops

  32. macgyver says:

    I dont really understand why Lakers hired this coach he is not good at all.

  33. kardi says:

    Oh,c’mon, really? Still it’s all about Howard? Leave this guy alone. He’s doing great job right now. Except Steve Blake he is the only guy who showed a lot of heart in those 2 games vs Spurs. Focus on the others instead. With Pau & Nash making so many sloppy plays there’s no way they gonna get any game in the series.

  34. Eaglos says:

    “This is life without Kobe for the Lakers, nobody to bail them out”

    Actually, this is life with a bad coach who cannot use two of the top NBA centers
    and pushed a battered veteran to a career ending injury. Also, this is life as Kobe
    managed to make it for this team since all season long he kept the ball for himself
    and never involved his teammates.

    Now Kobe is gone and the team cannot function since there was never really a plan
    by Antoni that involved actual team play. Apart from that, getting humiliated from
    Round 1 is the normal course of things and what many of here have been telling
    all season long.

    • sanjay says:

      @eagles: i hear you loud and clear!

    • blaz says:

      Couldn’t agree more with you. Mike D’Antoni is a no-plan coach. Having one of the most powerful all around team, all he managed was 7th seed (and it decided in season’s last game). With Kobe playing one of the most extraordinary season of his amazing career…
      Looking at LA and SA there is a grat difference. It is called Popovich.
      San Antonio is prepared for any scenario, they have a gameplan, confidence, they strike Lakers where it hurts them most. That is why the whole Bonner thing is brought up. Yet another pawn so brilliantly played in Pope’s chess game. A game, where every move is prepared in advance, not as a last-minute patch.

    • the problem isn't (just) the coach says:

      Not to make a case for MDA as COTY or anything, but he didn’t push Kobe to do anything he didn’t want to do. He can’t. D’Antoni has always had a problem getting superstars not named Steve Nash under control.

      Not to mention LAL was already tanking before MDA came in. He’s a non-factor, not an impediment to a team that’s already heavily stacked with talent

    • awefna says:

      never involved his team? that’s why he’s had several double doubles and 2 triple doubles this season

    • LakersWillWin says:

      The thing is… San Antonio is playing pretty awful basketball as well. I hate to say “IF IF IF” but Kobe would have made such a big difference in this series.

  35. Chris says:

    Lawl Bonner. He gave Howard some nasty

  36. Ivan says:

    please stop talking about kobe and tweets… we are here to watch basketball… nba iis not a reality show where you need to fix drama to be more exciting

    • John says:

      The lakers never should’ve been in the playoffs anyway they cheated for them calling invisible fouls I can’t even see why they put them in if they do win it will be in l.a how many fouls will be called will it be s.a vs l.a or s.a vs the refs??? Ask golden state

    • VC15toVC25 says:

      Unfortunately, it is the players who are putting the drama in the basketball game, pre-game or post-game… They’ll create some stirs left and right just to make it more interesting…

    • Denzo says:

      THANK YOU!!

  37. HAHA says:

    Stop texting Big mamba..

  38. ewan sayo says:

    lakers lose again. 2 more and they’re out fishing with charles and the rest of the pack.

  39. Gundy says:

    Shy hook? Heh, I like that.

  40. Wilson says:

    G.O.A.T. Sorry white mamba

  41. RED ROCKET! RED MAMBA! the soul of the spurs!! who said gingers don’t have souls? lol

  42. Heat Bandwagon says:

    i love you

  43. sanjay says:

    stop writing any nuisance man! lakers are done here period!

  44. Willy says:

    Excellent job Red One! DW is too strong not to have his way in LA, but if no help from the others it’s over! Can’t imagine the Red Mamba wanting to go another 5 games at this pace. I think they just put the Mamba on him to save TD and TS some pain!