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Dwight Howard answers Orlando boos with made free throws, Lakers win

Mar 12, 2013, 11:38 PM EDT

Dwight Howard, Tobias Harris, Jameer Nelson, Nikola Vucevic AP

In the third quarter, some Magic fans were heckling Dwight Howard, tweeted Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

“You can’t win without Kobe,” the Magic fans said.

“You’re right,” Howard responded.

It’s true for this season (and maybe another one or two), but for one night back in Orlando Howard was enough.

Howard had 39 points — and tied his own NBA record by being sent to the free throw line 39 times, but he hit 25 of them — leading the Lakers to a 106 -97 win.

What really matters for the Lakers is this win moves them half a game ahead of Utah again for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Lakers need wins right now and Wednesday night, on the second night of a back-to-back in Atlanta, is going to be a tougher game than this. Los Angeles needed this one and got it.

But leading up to the game the focus was on Howard’s return to Orlando. And he was greeted with lusty boos from the crowd from the moment he walked on the court. They continued throughout the game when he touched the ball, but they died off as he kept hitting free throws.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn went early and often to hack-a-Howard. It worked at first as Howard started 2-of-9 from the free throw line but then hit 23-of-30 the rest of the way — if a guy gets fouled enough he can get a rhythm at the line and Howard did. At the end he was just laughing about it as he hit 16-of-20 in the second half.

“I just wanted to come out there and have fun, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Howard said after the game in a televised interview. “Put a smile on my face, go out there… I missed a lot of free throws but then I made a lot of free throws.

“So I think all this was good for me as a person, as a man.”

Howard didn’t get a ton of help from Kobe Bryant on this night. Kobe opened the game with a straight away three pointer and didn’t hit another bucket the rest of the half. He finished the night just 4-of-14 shooting, but with eight assists and seven rebounds.

Five Lakers besides Howard were in double figures, led by Metta World Peace with 14.

The Magic made runs at the Lakers, particularly at the end of the first and second quarters to keep it close. In the Howard trade the Magic went young and some of their new young faces had solid games — Tobias Harris had 17 points, Maurice Harkless 12 and center Nikola Vucevic had 11 boards. You could see the potential.

Early in the third quarter the Magic took a small lead on a Harris block of Howard followed by a Harkless bucket in transition. The Orlando crowd roared.

But Howard and the Lakers put together another run, like the did all night. Los Angeles was simply the better team and the Magic couldn’t hold them off. They were going to need some help.

Like Howard missing free throws. But this was his night, and with a smile on his face he was knocking them down. He and the Lakers won and have moved on.

For Howard, in more ways than one.

  1. losanginsight - Mar 12, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    Orlando is like the ex that never lets go.
    39 and 16.
    16 x Champ 6th seed vs flop city 1st rd.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:05 AM

      An interesting and witty simile you got there.

      Why you ask? Because the ex got screwed. And by the look of the outcome, got screwed again.

      • phaden27 - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        To be fair exs are only really good for the occasional booty call anyway.

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:11 AM

        @phaden27: No argument on that too.

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      The Magic is more like the ex that can’t let go and keeps letting the Lakers crash on the couch. Or, more realistically, the ex that can’t manage their own household and keeps needing help to get turned around, then whines about the cost of their mistakes.

  2. deavn - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:17 AM

    lol insult to injury. He got the job done in Orlando tonight. I know the Orlando fans were pissed.

    • eerock41 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      not pissed, so Coward go up for 1 game this season. the lakers have yet to show that that can beat a elite team in the west. good luck in the play offs, dont worry Coward is use to 1 and done so he will smile when the lakers lose in the 1st round.

  3. spavs412 - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I hope the lakers can pull it out the rest of the way and make a run. Go lakers!!

  4. money2long - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    david stern is loving the drama and story lines down the stretch. ching-ching

  5. manchestermiracle - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    When one or more of the Magic’s youngsters pan out well, get paid well, and then start asking why management won’t put anyone decent around them, the fans can once again be pissed their next star has gone somewhere else. If your team can’t or won’t find a way to keep an All-Star you can either keep blaming the player or wise up and start demanding that management quit being stupid.

    The Magic got a number of players and draft picks for Howard. If they can’t turn all that into something reasonably decent then the owner should sell the club to someone who can. If the Magic continue to suck the fans will continue to blame Howard. If they get better via the players they got and through the draft the fans will give the credit to management. Howard can’t win either way and it appears he understands that.

    Howard said all the right things and took the high road in an interview before the game. He then played well, shutting the fans up in the best possible way. Howard is maturing and focusing on bigger fish to fry than the bitter Magic. Here’s hoping the Magic get better and can put Howard behind them, but the history of that club makes me think Magic fans will be blaming Howard for their situation for years to come. They hated Shaq for a long time, too, and look what that got them.

    • eerock41 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:39 AM

      sorry not every team in the nba can afford to pay a 30 million salary tax. NBA needs to go to a solid salary cap, that no team can go over. well that only if you want smaller market teams to have a chance at a title. which of course lakers fans dont, cause it is easier to win a title in a 8 team league.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        ehhh…”loaded” scenario. most of these teams are owned by millionaires, etc…they can shell out the bucks.

        maybe that should be a requirement…that every owner have super deep pockets.

      • manchestermiracle - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:14 PM

        OKC is a small-market team that went to the finals just last year. Did you forget about them? They chose to stay under the cap and not pay Harden, but it seems to be working out o.k. for them. If they get back to the finals and the Lakers flame out in the playoffs, well, that would be a pretty good argument in favor of smart management over deep pockets no matter what type of salary cap is in place or whether or not a team is paying the luxury tax.

      • badintent - Mar 16, 2013 at 3:10 AM

        Well said. Your new Assistanr GM job at the team of your choice starts Monday.Nice to see one guy here gets it.

  6. chainbuzz - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    D-12 took care of business. No mercy! Look out NBA, Kobe and the Kobe-Kai team are comin to the tournament!

    If their behavior after losing Shaq was any indication, Orlando fans will be bitter once again for a long time, hating the Lakers and Howard both.

    But that’s okay, Dwight, they will get over it and you must move on. Today was a good step.

    No mercy!

    Sweep the leg!

  7. jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    Lakers fans are going to be bitterly disappointed when they get destroyed in either the first or second round

    • beavertonsteve - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      ..and Thunder fans will be bitterly disappointed when they lose in the Championship, Spurs fans in the Western finals… what’s your point?

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:54 AM

        That once you win titles, anything less is a disappointment. The Spurs know this, the Thunder may find out some day. But more or less I’m here to return the favor of the Laker fans that troll Heat comment sections. Anyway, good night all

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:03 AM

      Perhaps so. But I be damned I’d rather be a Laker fan than a Magic fan if only for this season alone…

      Actually, I AM a Laker fan. XP

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:20 AM

      Wow… so a couple weeks ago people were saying the Lakers would NOT make the playoffs… last week they were saying they would NOT get past the first round… now they’re saying they’re going to get destroyed in the first OR second round. Fascinating, really.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:57 AM

        I think people who thought the Lakers wouldn’t make the playoffs are delusional. Their team is ancient yes, but still have a lot of talent. I just don’t think the Lakers will have the legs to get them very far in the playoffs.

      • kinggw - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:39 AM

        Not people, one person on this board.

        What’s fascinating is that Lakers fans are getting excited following a week where they beat three lottery teams and a Rose-less Bulls squad in LA. The Lake Show is playing better, but nothing they’ve done over the past couple of weeks should make any objective person think they could do anything in the playoffs against the top 5 in the West.

      • tsi431 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:14 AM

        Lakers fans are exited because this is the first we have seen of a healthy Dwight in a Lakers uniform. He is lighting up every team. 17 wins in our last 23 games says all you need to know.

        Next week Pau comes back and gives us a backup center when Howard sits. It can’t get much better then getting back an all star for the playoff run.

      • tsi431 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:16 AM

        Excited, damn auto correct.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:30 AM

        @kinggW. one person? are ya kidding me? this site has a huge following of trolls hating on every Laker move/play/article/etc… one person? tons of people have said they would not make the playoffs the past several weeks…

        @asimonetti88. exactly, sir. its ALWAYS another thing. truly fascinating.

        and lets not get ahead of ourselves…its is still just about getting in the playoffs and obtaining an optimal seed. i’m not worried about match-ups yet. oh…and it really makes me happy so many trolls/haters have as much concerns for the Lakers’ fate as us fans do. thank you again for help making the Lakers the most talked/commented team on this site.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      hate to disappoint you, but Lakers would like to move up to #6 spot.
      I see that happening, I trust in Kobe.

      Hey Orlando, Lakers is where you go to get chips, ask Shaq

      • 00maltliquor - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:47 PM

        6 spot would be sweet, just to play at home every game that series since it would be against the Clippers. Have always wanted an LA vs. LA playoff game!

        But honestly, deep down, as crazy as it sounds, I want the 8th seed. I think we have a better chance at the Spurs then the Clips or Thunder. We need to build up momentum to play those guys IMO.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:10 AM

      Jimmy , u r so crazy, Marlins play baseball. not basketball. You should go to Hardball silly.

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        Jimmy is a Jeff Loria apologist, which should say everything you need to know.

  8. purplekobra69 - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    One word.BOSS

  9. 00maltliquor - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    I got a question for you Magic fans…. was this fools gold with Tobias Harris tonight or has he been playing like this since y’all got him? I know my Lakers have a penchant for turning average joes into star players for a night, but that kid Harris looked for real. He was all over the place, on D, on O, rebounding….looks like you got a steal from MIL! Dude was pissing me off tonight.

    ORL has a bunch of OK players. Like a poor man’s version of the Nuggets. Nothing fantastic, but a bunch of solid to should become solid role players that should all be coming off the bench on any normal team. That O’Quinn kid is BIG.

    • aboogy123456 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      This was one of Tobias’ best games of his career, but I was also very impressed and I think he’s going to be really good. He’s a big athletic guy that can shoot the three and run the floor so well, and he has offensive moves. The part of the game where I was impressed was where Metta was trying to score on him in the block and could not push Harris out of the way. It’s very rare when a player matches Metta’s strength like that.

  10. davidly - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    How appropriate that the arena is called Amway. The fans boos were representational of shoppers jeering a former door greeter for leaving their precious Wal*Mart tm and going to work for Target.

    Clean up on aisle 12, y’all!

  11. HotHotHeat - Mar 13, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    Laker fans have zero class. Just like their organization. Just look at how they treated Phil Jackson earlier this year.

  12. eerock41 - Mar 13, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Howard your still not a man…………. just a 3 year old in a mans body.

  13. aboogy123456 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    Great game, it was a playoff atmosphere last night and the lakers were in full control even when it was close. Lakers are a legit championship contender. Yea they are in 8th place right now but when you have Dwight and Kobe, two of the clear superstars in the league, you have the chance for the title. This is what laker haters fail to understand.

    Kobe and Dwight are also a perfect complement to each other. Unlike OKC, where Durant and Westbrook take turns scoring, Kobe and Dwight play off each other and kobe has done a great job finding Dwight down low. Pau’s return will also help Dwight out so much because he won’t have to worry as much about fouls and can be more aggressive.

    • HotHotHeat - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      Please stop acting crazy. The Lakers ARE NOT a legit championship contender. Show me where the NBA experts(people who actually get paid to cover the NBA) are picking the Lakers to win the title. NO ONE is. They might scare a team or two in the playoffs but NO ONE is picking them ahead of the OKC, Spurs, and they damn sure aren’t picking them over the HEAT. Quit tripping.

      P.S. 1-10 against the top 4 teams in your conference does not make you a title contender. And don’t give me this “we’ve been hot lately.” If you use that logic then the Heat will never lose another game and that’s just as dumb as saying the Lakers are a title contender this year.

      • aboogy123456 - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:54 AM

        Before the season started most people had them as a contender, so why has it changed now? Because they were bad during the rest of the season? If you’ve been paying attention you should know that Dwight has become a different player since the all star break, and he’s still getting better. All year they were injured and learning to play with each other, watch out. So they are closer to what we expected coming into the season, which is a contender.

        And by contender I don’t mean they will win it, I just think that they are now one of the teams that has potential to win it. Miami, San antonio, OKC, both LA teams, memphis, denver, and maybe indiana. These are all the contenders in my opinion, and I think the lakers match up well against any of them.

  14. themagicfanguy - Mar 13, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    @maltliquor Harris has been doing it since the trade, getting about 15 and 7 a game I think. Maybe we got a steal for JJ, we’ll see.

  15. Mr. Wright 212 - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    You Laker haters backtrack more than most cornerbacks in the NFL in coverage. You swore off their ability to make the playoffs. Now you’re saying they will win in the first round, then get destroyed in the second.

    All while failing to point out that the All-Star Break virtually marked the end of their exhibition (with the key acquisitions finally playing together while healthy), and since that point, they’ve played more like the team that everyone got so excited (or nervous, if you’re a hater) about going into the season.

  16. southpaw77 - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Howard says to one fan, does your mom hate me too, she liked me last night.
    What a punk move, that’s how people come out the stands and do something evil. These fans buy tickets, buy your jersey, then you rub their face in it by pointing at your Lakers jersey and insulting them and their moms? Have some class Dwight and play ball, chances are if he played that hard vs the Lakers in the finals years ago they’d have a title.

    Could care less for either team but hearing all the things he did and said last night I just shake my head.

  17. magicbucs - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    To all you laker fans. You were supposed to beat the magic anyway. Magic are rebuilding.. Too bad you couldn’t beat them in LA or did you already forget that. CAUSE NONE OF YOU IDIOTS WERE POSTING ON HERE WHEN THE MAGIC WHIPPED THE LAKERS IN LA.

    If you fakers make the playoffs you’ll be out in 5 games. You guys are underachieving since you guys were “supposed” to be the #1 seed in the nba. LAKERS STILL SUCK

    • aboogy123456 - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Ok why don’t we make a bet if you are so sure. If lakers lose in 5 games or less, I’ll own up to it and you can say you were right. If they go 6 games or even win in the first round, I want to hear you own up to it. I don’t like how all the haters are backtracking and not owning up to their statements. Soon you’ll change your mind and say, “well the lakers won’t get to the finals, well the lakers won’t beat the heat in the championship” yadda yadda. If this is your final argument stick to it and deal with the results, just like I have done this season by believing in the team even when they were down.

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