Happy Dwight Thwarts Hack-a-Howard

VIDEO: Dwight Howard and his Rockets beat another Texas team, downing the Mavs Wednesday

DALLAS – Smiling, singing and dancing, a carefree, 6-foot-11, muscle-bound and shirtless greeter welcomed reporters into the winning locker room as if they were coming in for an after-work Happy Hour and drinks were on the house.

“File in everybody, come on, file in,” Dwight Howard said merrily, waving his arms and directing the throng inside.

Life is good when you make your free throws and Howard had just dropped seven of them on eight attempts in a span of 59 seconds midway through fourth quarter. He thwarted the Dallas Mavericks’ Hack-a-Dwight strategy and the points likely saved the Rockets from another embarrassing last-minute collapse.

“I looked like Reggie Miller tonight from the line,” Howard boasted after the 117-115 victory in which he scored nine of his 21 points from the free-throw line on 11 attempts. That’s 82 percent for a 53-percent foul shooter.

“We’re 6-1 when they Hack-a-Dwight,” Howard boasted. “Look it up. The only one we lost was to the Lakers.”

That stat remains unofficial, but it has merit. With 4:20 to go and Houston leading Dallas, 107-97, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, desperate to stop Houston blow-bys to the rim, ordered the hacks. Howard made the first two. Hacked again. He split the next two. Hacked again. He made both as the crowd groaned. The Rockets led 112-101, a plus-1 advantage through the 59 seconds of hacks.

Carlisle called off the dogs. Yet on Houston’s next possession following a Vince Carter 3-pointer, Howard was fouled in the act of shooting. Two-for-two — 114-104.

“He made enough that Rick [Carlisle] quit doing it,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “That’s the key. He made 9-of-11. Believe me, if you make enough, the other team quits doing it.”

He made so many that he stole the spotlight from 35-year-old Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 38 points and 17 rebounds as he awaits a possible 12th All-Star berth Thursday night.

On Tuesday against San Antonio, Dwight went 9-for-14 during a third-quarter Hack-a-Howard phase. The Rockets won the quarter, 33-18. Dwight still only managed to go 13-for-25 from the line in the 97-90 win.

“Dwight’s making his free throws. He made them last night, he made them tonight,” McHale said. “I guess I’ll take the points if you’re standing there and you don’t have to do anything to get points. It does muck up the game and it does slow things down, but I mean I’ll take the points if all you got to do is stand there and shoot free throws all night.”

That’s not typically a great image of Howard: stiff-legged and flicking bricks.

But, give the man credit, he’s making the pressure free throws, for whatever reason, but he still struggles so mightily on so many trips to the free throw line, for whatever reason. He offered a familiar refrain about his success on this night, yet still no explanation for why it can’t happen more often than not.

“I just stepped up, I didn’t think too much, I just went up there and shot ‘em,” Howard said. “And when I do that I’m a lot better than getting up there and thinking what’s going to happen, the outcome, so I was a lot better tonight.

“It gives them [his teammates] more confidence in me and also the coaching staff. They see how much I work on it every day in practice. So, to get in the game and knock ‘em down when we need it is key for our team.”

Yes, life is good when you make your free throws.

14 Comments

  1. some dude says:

    I am a big NBA fan, and when basketball is on TV, nothing else can be watched in this household. But I have to admit, I couldn’t stand watching that 3rd quarter with the spurs and I changed channels and let the wife watch some chick stuff. It was the most boring game I had ever seen. I agree 100% with JJ who said the following:
    “I think it’s a stupid rule that ruins the game – change it.
    A deliberate foul away from the ball should be a technical – one free throw and ball back. Done, no more hacka-what-ever.”
    The NBA is a business. Sometimes you need to change the rules for your business to benefit. Otherwise many more people will be changing channels just like I did, and there go the ratings and ad revenue…

  2. Gillsy says:

    I presume Hakeem is back in town. Howard’s game most notedly his confidence has risen. We can all remember coaches saying he can hit them in practice just not in the game. If you only shoot 5 shots and get 2 or 3 that’s ordinary. But if in that time he gets some confidence next thing with the hack a Howard he is 10 of 15.

  3. sirsparhawk says:

    Maybe this will give him incentive to practice freethrows. Imagine if he was a 70% FT shooter.

  4. DrSubZero says:

    ….I get soooo frustrated to see the Refs call so many touch fouls on these big strong guys that it makes me not wanna keep watching the game. And i don’t like the favortism some refs give the superstars and so called superstars. I hope Mr. Silver changes the way the game is called and let the players play. BTW….I also hate the nicknames on the back of the jerseys too, seems to be more like street ball.

  5. Edub says:

    Why change the rule in favor of the big man? If they can’t hit FT’s then that’s on them. They have plenty of time of practice and you want to change the rule to reward them because they don’t practice?

    • I Agree with you Edub, Hack a whatever is not that big a deal…if a rule change were needed it should be for the refs to stop calling such silly foul calls and let the player play on a little bit more…Hack a whatever ain’t killin the game, its these touch foul calls thata are!!!!

      • DrSubZero says:

        @ TrueRedWhiteandBluer…..I agree with you on the touch fouls….I get soooo frustrated to see the Refs call so many touch fouls on these big strong guys that it makes me not wanna keep watching the game. And i don’t like the favortism some refs give the superstars and so called superstars. I hope Mr. Silver changes the way the game is called and let the players play. BTW….I also hate the nicknames on the back of the jerseys too, seems to be more like street ball.

  6. Raz says:

    oh.. this is worth an article?.. kudos for him, but let see he keep this up for more than 1 game before we make a big deal out of it..

  7. JJ says:

    I think it’s a stupid rule that ruins the game – change it.
    A deliberate foul away from the ball should be a technical – one free throw and ball back. Done, no more hacka-what-ever.

  8. jake s. says:

    Hacka should only be used in certain high-pressure scenarios. Coaches know this, but they go with percentage sometimes. Cant blame Pop or whoever coaches the Wizards for going with probability.

  9. okc2014 says:

    Wow, he seems so light hearted. I don’t remember Dwight Howard showed this side of his personality when he was with the Lakers. What’s up with that?

    • Rockets says:

      Kobe didn’t allow it. More scrutiny in LA than in Houston especially when the team is not winning.

  10. Oakley34BLAM says:

    Deandre Jordan hit 4 in a row from the line in the fourth as well tonight, helping secure a victory over Washington as they tried to Hack-a-Big as well. The bigs keep this up and we may finally see some coaches rethinking…