Howard Debut Passes Dream Test

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HOUSTON
– After a warm, if not thunderous, welcome from his thousands of new fans in Texas, Dwight Howard received the positive feedback he wanted from his new teacher.

“He ran the floor, he established himself as a big man in the post and he made plays,” said Hakeem Olajuwon from his mid-court seat on the front row at the Toyota Center Saturday night. “This was just the first game, an exhibition game, but it was a good start.”

The Hall of Famer, who led Houston to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, has been tutoring Howard on low post moves in special sessions for the past several summers and the relationship has intensified since Olajuwon re-joined his former team as a part-time assistant coach working with the big men.

Howard scored 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dealt three assists and blocked one shot while playing 27 minutes in his Rockets debut, a 116-115 loss to the Pelicans. He shot 6-for-11 from field and 7-for-11 from the foul line.

“I’m especially glad that Dwight got to play as many minutes as he did tonight,” Olajuwon said. “It will do him good to build up his legs and his endurance was soon as possible, so that when the regular season begins he will be ready to dominate.

“What I saw from him tonight were many of the things that we have seen from Dwight earlier in his career. He was athletic. He was alive. But most of all, I think he looked like he is having a good time out there. He is happy and I can tell you from personal experience that means a lot. You need to know that your coach believes in you, that your teammates truly believe in you and that the city is behind you. I think after a couple of difficult seasons, Dwight has that again here in Houston.”

A crowd that was decidedly less than the full house that will be on hand for the Rockets’ Oct. 30 season opener versus Charlotte, was excited even when he lost the opening tip to the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and moaned when Howard stepped to the free throw line for the first time and missed the first of a pair of free throws with 8:37 left in the first quarter. He made the second shot.

Howard’s first bucket in a Rockets uniform was a five-foot turnaround jumper that came off a feed from Jeremy Lin with 6:14 to go in the opening quarter. On the very next possession, Lin got the ball right back into Howard a slam dunk.

Midway through the third quarter, Howard received the ball paint and used his quickness to spin by Jason Smith and score on on a nifty reverse layup.

“Good move! Good move!” shouted Olajuwon from his seat on the front row. “Don’t hesitate when you see an opening. Take it.”

Howard went to the bench and was done for the night, drawing a defensive three-second call with 56.6 left in the third quarter.

Olajuwon shrugged off the criticism of his pupil from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who said Howard did not have a “go-to move.”

“Dwight has the fundamentals. He has the basics,” Olajuwon said. “What I am trying to help him with is to show him where there are certain things and certain spots in the defenses that he can take advantage of.

“What I did see tonight was him making his presence felt at the defensive end. He had it in mind at times that he wanted to dominate. That’s the way a big man has to think all the time.

“What I also saw were times when he passed the ball back out to a guard or someone else when he should have turned and taken the shot himself.

“I know he wants to fit in with his new teammates. I know this team has played a style where they ran and shot a lot from the outside. But the Rockets have a big man now. A real big man. An All-Star. The kind of big man who can dominate and take them places.

The significance of Howard entering his 10th NBA season is not lost on Olajuwon, who led the Rockets to a championship in his 10th year in the league.

“I can sit here and say that the team and Dwight can really think that way,” Olajuwon said. “It’s early. This is just a start.”

19 Comments

  1. mrball says:

    its funny how everone is forgetting about james harden who i think is the most imprtant piece to helping the rockets win becuase most nights you excpect what dwight howard is going to bring to the table but james harden is a young and upcoming superstar and should still be the focus of there offence

  2. MrBasketball says:

    @BradCox – kareem and that silly hookshot is the ALL TIME LEADER SCORER IN THE HISTORY OF THE NBA. I find it strange that no other big man has developed a hook shot. imagine if you had one go to move – that no other person in the world could stop. that was the Kareem sky hook.

    also, people are so unfair when talking about D12. I have seen the guy develop a few moves since coming into the league. Also bear in mind that he came in right from high school and Shaq, Kareem, Hakeem, Robinson, Ewing, etc, spent a few more years in college developing their skills.

    If you look at centers in the league i think you see from their skill that the center position is on of the hardest to develop in the league.

    • harlematl says:

      @Brad Cox.. You must be young…

      I think I understand your comment but look at the “silly” guys numbers. That’s all that matters. Plus Kareem said something that made me rethink a point of view… Howard doesn’t have a go to move which is critical. Every great player has a go to move that simply wins. Remember this is a kid, yeah I said it, a kid that never went to college. This is the same kid when in Orlando and was the first option, took his team to the Finals.

      Oh and back to Kareem.. Look at how many rings “Silly” has. It’s called having fundamental skills when you are not that athletic. I guess you would say the same about Duncan, Moses Malone, Darrell Dawkins, Bill Walton, Robert Parish and others that simple get the job done.

    • harlematl says:

      I think I understand your comment but look at the “silly” guys numbers. That’s all that matters. Plus Kareem said something that made me rethink a point of view… Howard doesn’t have a go to move which is critical. Every great player has a go to move that simply wins. Remember this is a kid, yeah I said it, a kid that never went to college. This is the same kid when in Orlando and was the first option, took his team to the Finals.

      Oh and back to Kareem.. Look at how many rings “Silly” has. It’s called having fundamental skills when you are not that athletic. I guess you would say the same about Duncan, Moses Malone, Darrell Dawkins, Bill Walton, Robert Parish and others that simply get the job done.

  3. dwight ho-verrated says:

    “Dwight is an extraordinary athlete and has incredible athletic ability, but basketball is a game where the most important muscle that you use on the court is the one between your ears,” Abdul-Jabbar said on ESPN’s “First Take” show Thursday. “Dwight’s basketball IQ is not up to speed for him to be a dominant player.” Me says, if he’s great and dominant he wouldn’t go to “the dream” for some post up lesson, shaq didn’t go and got 4 nba rings, roy hibbert was the best natural center last year

    • samidasaint says:

      haha that’s cause shaq played against hakeem moron by the time the dream called it a career shaq was already a veteran and a number 1 option in the league he didn’t need to go seek anyone out at that point… so many ppl have uneducated opinions.

      • coninico0810 says:

        he actually practiced with and learned from wilt chamberlain. Go get educated yourself! you dunce

  4. OKC says:

    Yeah way to lose to NO lol. I don’t care if they got Holiday they are still one of the weakest teams in the west. I really don’t think they should be changing the game plan for this team, slowing it down and feeding into the post isn’t exactly using Harden to his full potential. Too bad Howard isn’t content to just hustle, grab boards, and get his points off put backs and pick and roll like most good bigs in the league (the guy could get 15+ points a game without calling a single play for him), otherwise I would actually be worried about H town challenging for the west.

  5. Brad Cox says:

    Real athletes are more fun to watch than guys who just flip up baby hooks all the time. Was checking out some youtube clips of how Olajuwon and Sampson were blocking lots and lots of Kareem’s shots… made Kareem look silly !

  6. lol says:

    same story every year, everyone expects howard to show post game but fails big time, the guy got no skills, just pure athleticism, good for defence rebounding and dunking end of story.

  7. Joe says:

    Howard is going to be dominant this season. He is happy, and having McHale and The Dream to push him will be to his benefit; and having a better, younger team helps too. Lin+Howard should be something as a Pg-C tandem.

  8. that was pretty good…let’s see if he could do that in the regular season

  9. Fundamentalist says:

    But Howard is Howard not Olajuwon, lol

  10. J says:

    I just don’t care for the pre season

  11. Eaham says:

    Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.Teach the man how to shoot Free throws. Almost a decade in the league and he can’t make free throws to defend his life.

    • eric says:

      can you explain that one more time? and did you copy paste or write all that out?

    • jay says:

      7 for 11, that’s over 60% better than a lot of legendary big men

    • Migo says:

      all i can say is taht Shaq was one of the best big men on the league and guess what he was a poor free throw shooter, if your game has 5 parts to it and your only doing so, so on 1 and its the free throws i’ll take it, at least he hits close to 50% that’s still decent for a bad freethrow shooter

  12. exiled says:

    The most entertianing show …D12 in action