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Unimpressive Dwight Howard not helping his image

Dec 28, 2012, 12:02 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Dwight Howard will be more than happy to tell you how he came back early from back surgery to help the Lakers. Doctors told him not to play until January but he pushed through pain so he could be out there from opening day for the Lakers.

He’s clearly not yet 100 percent physically. He’s not the explosive Howard on the boards and on defense that we remember from Orlando. His numbers are not bad — 17.5 points and 11.8 rebounds a game — but he has gone from guy who was talked about as an MVP candidate a few years ago to a good player.

But it’s more than that, he looks lethargic at times.

He looks lost in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, like he’s unsure where to be in the sets. He looks like a guy thinking his way through the game, not just playing and reacting.

And his energy is down — watch how the Lakers energy picks up when Howard sits and Jordan Hill enters. Hill tries to make up for his lack of polished skills with effort.

All of this comes back to Howard, who is starting to take heat in Los Angeles for his lethargic play. Look at what Kevin Ding wrote in the Orange County Register (you really need to read the entire thing, it’s brilliant).

“Dwight Howard is basically Kosta Koufos” was the message I got from one NBA insider midway through the Lakers’ loss Wednesday night in Denver, referring to the Nuggets’ largely anonymous center….

This is what Howard is allowing to happen: As more substandard games go by without noticeable rust dropping off, the image repair that was supposed to happen this season is twisting into reputation tarnishing.

And that last bit is the key.

Howard thrashed his national reputation in the ugly way he pushed his way out of Orlando. But this is America, you can thrash your reputation pretty good but if you come back hard and win people tend to forget the past and move on. Just ask Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

But Howard’s play of late is only adding to his reputation, he looks like a guy who can coast and is happy to let Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash take the burden of leadership.

You should hear Los Angeles sports talk radio (which is often all Lakers and the Clippers with their 15-game win streak are almost ignored) where Howard’s play is getting ripped. He is not what people expected.

Howard has been good. But the Lakers didn’t trade for him to be good, they traded for him to be a force of nature. To fight to get things done. Right now he’s not doing that.

People are noticing.

And that is not helping Howard turn around his reputation after Orlando.

  1. scalfor3 - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Is anyone really surprised by this?

    • jasonculhane - Dec 28, 2012 at 7:01 PM

      This dude is overrated. I agree though, he’s an upgrade over Bynum as of now, but only because he was falling apart, but Bynum has a better skill set.

      In all honesty he’s the sole reason the offense don’t work because he can’t hit a jump shot, and is horrible on free throws. He’s a horrible addition to this kind of offense. Also throw in all the things we expected and he can’t seem to do, like protect the paint and be effective in pick n roll situations, I would trade the guy and not hesitate. He’s also a coach killer too, I mean what coach does this guy like?

      Give this guy some time? He’s had 29 games and its the same ole story with him. He blames everyone else for his short comings. He’s frusterated not because the Lakers can’t play defense its because he knows HE can’t. Lets be absolutely real here, he’s never cared about “a team” or a “coach” he’s always been about himself. HE can’t play defense no more, and he’s getting dominated and embarrased. That’s what he’s mad at, but he has no humility.

      If it were me, I would trade this snake oil to anyone in return for 2-3 jump shooters and athletic big men..ASAP!

    • bozosforall - Dec 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM

      Still better than anyone on the Puh C’s front line.

      • basketballhooper1 - Dec 29, 2012 at 7:16 AM

        Ahhh bozo, your back I see :) but this article is about the Lakers and Howard struggling, so I fail to see how your comment relates to the Celtics

  2. loungefly74 - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    give the guy some time!

    • 00maltliquor - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      I know, right!

      At least he’s out there every game playing and not sitting out. I’ll admit he’s not the same Howard, but he’s also not 100%. Like you said, give him some time.

      And that compairison of his energy to that of when Jordan Hill comes off the bench…c’mon Kurt, J Hill makes everyone look lethargic save Kenneth Faried! Dude is the energizer bunny with dreads!

  3. chargerdillon - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    The only thing Dwight has done well is smile on the court all season long as if the score or anything related to the Lakers winning or being in the lead is important to him.

    He plays like a guy going through the motions with little interest in the real outcome of things at the end of the game or the coming collapse when they fail to make the playoffs.

    I would love to praise this guy for anything, FOR ANYTHING, but I can’t. He has no desire to take this team for himself even if ownership and even Kobe want him to, he simply does not care to do so.

    That being said, this was a dominant team when Andrew Bynum was the center being just a role player.

    In the face of adversity Dwight Howard looks to be the biggest paper-tiger of all.

  4. ron05342 - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    “You should hear Los Angeles sports talk radio (which is often all Lakers and the Clippers with their 15-game win streak are ignored).”

    Bingo.

    I am a long-time Laker fan, but listening to KSPN 710 you would have thought the Clippers didn’t exist. All Lakers, all the time, ad nauseum, and even Laker fans like myself are sick of it.

    KSPN recently talked about the Clippers only in regard to why some Laker fans can’t give the Clippers respect. That was the extent of Clippers talk.

    KSPN completely lacks credibility in regards to sports talk radio in L.A. There has been a lot of pressure on them in recent days by Clipper fans to discuss the Clippers in more respectful terms but they have resisted.

    Too bad for KSPN. Because as the Clippers continue to win and the Lakers continue to stumble, they will continue to be what many of us are already convinced of: that they are beholden to the Lakers, their talk shows are fashioned to the Lakers’ wishes, and they completely lack integrity in this regard.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      Well no offense, but there aren’t enough Clippers fans to warrant it. It’s all a numbers game. LA is a vast majority Lakers town, so the vast majority of talk is going to be Lakers. Same deal here on PBT- Lakers stories gather more clicks/comments than anyone else, so there are more Lakers stories.

      • jimeejohnson - Dec 28, 2012 at 9:30 PM

        The Clippers are going to gain fans in the LA area if they continue to dominate. Nationally, too.

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 28, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        Probably, but I’m talking the here and now, and as of now, there are not many Clippers fans here.

      • kavika6 - Dec 29, 2012 at 2:36 AM

        There are plenty of Clippers fans, unfortunately most of them are wearing black and white striped shirts.

    • davidly - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

      Well, my guess is that somebody’s gonna be force-fed respect one week from tonight when the Clippers meet them “on the road”. And as catatonic as the Lakers’ crowd can be sometimes, it’ll be interesting to see which way the masses at the Forum Staples Center rock.

      • echech88 - Dec 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        They’ve already played each other this season and plenty of times last season.

        A big % of people who fill up Staples for Clipper games are actually Laker fans that just don’t hate the Clippers yet. You will see this come out at the Clippers “home” game when 50% of the people there will be Laker fans wearing purple.

        Clipper tickets are a lot cheaper than Laker tickets. Don’t let their capacity crowds trick you into thinking its anything other than a bandwagon right now that just likes the NBA. That crowd and interest in the team will vanish when the quality does.

  5. hoodheisman - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    So this is where all these garbage Laker takes come from? L.A. Sports radio? Wow. Try getting a job Herlin.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      Try getting a spelling lesson.

  6. wwttww - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    He will come back home to Atlanta with his tail between his legs next year to team up with his boys louwill and smooov. A Howard horford frontline next year?

  7. aboogy123456 - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Dwight was told by the doctors that even though he’s not 100%, there’s no risk of further injury, so why not start playing?? I’d rather he get acclimated to playing with his teammates than come back in January when the lakers would undoubtedly have a worse record than they do now. The lakers need him, look at how much worse their defense is without him on the floor to protect the rim.

    I can’t wait to see him at 100%, but he’s not tarnishing my image of him by playing early. The only image tarnishing is when he gets frustrated and takes cheap shots at the opponent, but that’s something that he needs to fix and has nothing to do with his back.

  8. bucrightoff - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    And Kobe hasn’t even started yelling at the guy yet. When he does, look the hell out Laker fans.

    • camnellum12 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      He has. I heard Dwight gave up in a practice scrimmage, and the 2nd unit (the atrocious bench!) beat the starting 5. Kobe chewed him out!

      • Nostrils10 - Dec 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        “I heard” lol… drop us the link?

  9. illadelphiasphinest - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Well at least he is playing. Ask us Philly fans how Andrew Bymun looks out on the floor every night. O yea thats right he hasent even suited up for a single game yet….

  10. camnellum12 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Hahaha can you say I told ya so?

    “Dwight is a BIG upgrade from Bynum, he plays with more ‘heart and effort’.”

    Where is it? Obviously Howard is injured, but this guy won’t even contest smaller guards, who he has about 7 inches on, which really pisses me off as a Laker fan. Dwight doesn’t just want to be a Laker, its no secret. Bynum may be hurt, but geez, he put some work in on the offensive side of the court and gave you a 18-11 game, no matter how “childish” you thought he was. I will be laughing but crying at the same time once Dwight leaves the Lakers, I just wonder who’ll be the franchises next anchor, cause it sure aint Coward.

    • cosanostra71 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      Howard is putting up 18-11 a game as well. And he’s actually on the court. Even if Howard regresses from his true talent and ability and plays at this same level for the rest of his career, he is still an upgrade from Bynum. Would you prefer 18-11-3 blocks for 75-82 games a year, or 18-11-3 blocks for 35-40 games a year?

      • camnellum12 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:00 PM

        Bynum did that for about 60 games. You’re foolish if you think he’s an upgrade from Bynum, Dwight sucks on help defense, he doesn’t even contest anymore, he seems lost to whether to set a screen or not, the bench even plays better when he’s off the court. He’ sulking out there and he doesn’t want to wear purple and gold for the rest of his career!

      • aboogy123456 - Dec 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        @Camnellum12 You lost credibility once you said Dwight sucks at help defense. Bynum was a really good defender but don’t even compare him to dwight in that regard.

      • cosanostra71 - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        Bynum did that for about 60 games? He’s averaged 44 games over the last 6 years (52 if you want to throw out this year), he’s played 264 out of a possible 424 games… over that same period, Howard has played in 404 games… I like Bynum, but to argue he is better than Howard is wrong, if not for any other reason than Bynum is made of glass and misses significant chunks every year. If you think the Lakers are struggling now, do you really think they’d be better with no Howard OR Bynum?

      • camnellum12 - Dec 28, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        @aboogy I already know Dwight is one of the best help defenders out there, prior to this season. After his back surgery, he’s not even looking nowhere near the same player, he’s laboring out there, I’m not sure whether it’s from his injury or confidence, maybe both.

  11. chichi78 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Clip fans would relate to White Sox fans…the Sox won the freaken Word Series, yet its Cubs all the time in Chicago.

  12. michaeljordanseviltwin - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Gee, the Lakers must be so disappointed with the trade. How’s Bynum playing in Philly again?

    • spthegr8 - Dec 29, 2012 at 9:36 AM

      @Mikestwin
      THANK YOU!!!! Just logged in and what a NON-SENSE article for Kurt too write!!!!

  13. dko83 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Little off topic but I can’t believe the Clips are still getting ignored in LA. Blows my mind. Liking the insight into local sports media though, Kurt. Never would’ve guess that.

  14. marksp18 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    This is ridiculous. How is D12 hurting his image? If I am not mistaken, he is right at his career averages. And he supposedly is not quite all the way 100% recovered from his surgery. Not too bad.

    He is doing all this while another player is taking the majority of the shots too.

    Maybe if they worked the ball into him and let him pass it back out more often the offense would work better? Maybe.

    I ain’t worried about D12. He will be rolling come April and that is when the games really matter.

    The criticism should be directed at Pau Gasol who is not carrying his own water. Nash has been out for the majority of the games as well.

    Yet D12 is not doing enough. OK.

    He will be just fine and the Lakers front office is very happy with the trade especially when you consider Bynum is not even playing.

    The Buss family will pay D12 big money at the end of this season for sure. He is worth it too.

    This is just part of the season. Fans complaining and writers looking for something to write about.

    Let me know when D12 starts to decline from his career averages.

  15. themagicfanguy - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    *Try getting a lesson in spelling.

  16. crtzinc - Dec 28, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    As a Laker fan I would consider us fortunate to have this version of Dwight than the Alternative of the current Bynum.

  17. patfic15 - Dec 28, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Still early…not a Howard fan but he can still come around. Laker fans need to be patient.

  18. cosanostra71 - Dec 29, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Dwight is killing it tonight

  19. ron05342 - Dec 29, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Yup. He is killing it in order to make the Lakers a .500 team.

    BTW, the Clippers just want their 16th in a row. *Yawn*, right?

  20. asublimeday - Dec 29, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Nobody likes Lebron.

  21. asublimeday - Dec 29, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    Clip fans would relate to White Sox fans…the Sox won the freaken Word Series, yet its Cubs all the time in Chicago.
    —–

    Nobody cares about the white sox

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