Skip to content

Dwight Howard says he has been different player since All-Star Break

Mar 10, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Despite all the talk about his rough season — whether you attribute that to his back and shoulder injuries or his mental attitude (or, a combo of the two) — Dwight Howard has put up good numbers: 16.2 points a game on 57.7 percent shooting plus 12.1 rebounds a game.

In his last 10 games those offensive numbers are off slightly (15.7 points on 56.5 percent) but his overall game has looked better as he has decided to own the defensive end of the floor. He is grabbing 21.4 percent of the available rebounds when on the floor and 11.7 percent of the Lakers missed shots. He has been a defensive force in the paint and that has been key to things like the Lakers 25-point comeback against the Hornets.

Howard said he has had a new mental attitude since the All-Star break, something he emphasized speaking to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“I’m a big thinker,” Howard said during a wide-ranging, candid interview after the Los Angeles Lakers practiced Saturday afternoon. “So I just stayed in the hotel and thought about the first half of the season and how I could do better for our team.

“And I just told myself, ‘I’m going to commit myself to being better for the second half of the season.’ “

The changes included improving his conditioning (partially through a better diet). And he said he needed to get back to being the player he had been in terms of style the past few years and try to take on more of Kobe Bryant’s mental attitude about the game.

But part of it was adjusting to the expectations of being the star center of the Los Angeles Lakers. In Los Angeles, the Lakers are THE sports story — they dominate the newspapers and sports talk radio. The Clippers have been the better team and you’re lucky to hear people discuss them on the radio; they are always the second story in newscasts.

Being a star for the Lakers is like being the quarterback for the Cowboys or the No. 3 hitter for the New York Yankees — there is pressure and scrutiny that is above and beyond other roles in the same sport. Howard thought he had seen pressure as the anchor of the Magic franchise taking them to the finals, but it’s just not the same thing.

Howard wasn’t ready for it, and combine that with him struggling to be himself through injury and you have a pressure Howard admits he wasn’t used to.

“Besides just the expectations,” he said. “In games, I mess up and there’s somebody in the crowd saying something and I’m ready to snap at ‘em. That’s not what we’re supposed to do.

“But you look at a guy like Kobe and he doesn’t care about nothing but going out there and playing hard. That’s a lesson a lot of us have to learn — especially young guys.”

Kobe doesn’t fear the expectations. Look at the numbers and you see he misses a lot of shots at the end of close games — more than he makes — but he is never afraid to take the next one, and that is part of what makes him dangerous in the clutch.

Howard needs that attitude, and we’re starting to see it from him.

The Lakers are winning if not overwhelming — those were impressive late-game wins recently but it was against the Hornets and Raptors — and for them to start to reach their expectations it’s going to take the Howard of old.

Latest Posts
  1. Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO)

    Oct 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

    “Understand that it’s a cycle and things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment.” —Kobe Bryant

  2. Sixers’ K.J. McDaniels with a two-handed rejection, has more preseason blocks than Anthony Davis (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    McDaniels has amassed 14 blocked shots this preseason — more than guys like DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis.

  3. Report: Magic, Nikola Vucevic agree to 4-year contract extension

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

    Nets Magic Basketball AP

    Solid big men get overpaid consistently and have for many years. In light of that fact, this deal is just fine.

  4. Daryl Morey sticks up for James Harden’s defense, says YouTube video “unfair”

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets Media Day Getty Images

    James Harden’s defense isn’t as bad as some people say… but it’s not good.

  5. Report: Nets minority owner puts his majority share of Barclays Center up for sale

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Brooklyn New Arena AP

    It’s possible, but not likely, that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will buy the rest of the building.

  6. Report: Bucks join 76ers, Thunder in opposing lottery reform

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams

    Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee still need five more teams to join their side

  7. Could lottery reform be bad for small market teams? Sam Presti argues yes.

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    Watch after the draft lottery next year when a team like the Lakers, Celtics or Knicks jumps way up the board so they can draft a young star and some smaller market owners cry it’s unfair.

  8. LeBron James and his difficult-to-assess super teams

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

    The only precedent for LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving? LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh

  9. Knicks guard Iman Shumpert wears clock hat

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

    Iman Shumpert is wearing a hat with a clock on it. That is all.

  10. Entire Bulls bench runs to help up Derrick Rose (video)

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Chicago point guard still clearly has respect of teammates

  11. 67RIEFNS No. 25: Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Omer Asik,Anthony Davis Omer Asik,Anthony Davis

    New Orleans adds its missing link in Omer Asik

  12. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Dallas Mavericks

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    'Nowitzki. Der Perfekte Wurf' Premiere In Cologne Getty Images

    They’re not as good as Mark Cuban thinks they are, but they are improved.

Featured video

What are impacts of NBA's new TV deal?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (4167)
  2. D. Rose (3765)
  3. B. Lopez (3736)
  4. J. Lin (3569)
  5. V. Oladipo (3541)