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D’Antoni said Howard didn’t play his role on Lakers, questions fit in Houston

Jul 17, 2013, 5:03 PM EDT

Mike D'Antoni, Dwight Howard AP

How Houston incorporates Dwight Howard into their offense is going to be interesting. Here are two facts to dwell on:

1) The Houston Rockets played at the fastest pace in the NBA last season. They averaged 98.6 possessions per game, which was faster than the Nuggets (97.8), faster than the Warriors (96.8), faster than everyone. They were a fast break team that ran a lot of pick-and-roll.

2) Dwight Howard didn’t enjoy running the up-tempo, pick-and-roll heavy offense of Mike D’Antoni wanted to install with the Lakers last season.

D’Antoni emphasized that point and told the Los Angeles Daily News he isn’t sure Howard is going to be a great fit in Houston.

Steve Nash and Dwight Howard on the pick and roll, and that’s what I do?” D’Antoni remembers, wistfully. “I just thought, ‘Boy, that’s gonna be a staple….’ ”

“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.”

Kevin McHale went into detail with Howard when they met on how he wanted to use Howard in the offense, and the free agent center bought in and decided to take his talents to the Houston. They are apparently on the same page, at least right now. But in interviews since the signing McHale has talked about the value of Howard in the pick-and-roll with James Harden and Jeremy Lin and how he wants to use him that way. Look at it this way, in the past three seasons Howard has never shot better than a little over 50 percent on post isolations, but never lower than 74 percent as the roll man (via Synergy Sports). McHale’s smart enough to see what works.

Houston is certainly going to look different on offense — they should get Howard post touches, he is good there, but that will slow things down some. Things will change, the question is how much for the better? Remember the Rockets scored well last season — 106.7 points scored per 100 possessions, sixth best in the league.

If the Rockets can continue to score around that pace and start to defend better than the pedestrian level they were at last year, that is where Howard really can make a difference.

D’Antoni is a little bitter about Howard bolting, and I get that. But he’s not wrong in saying what Howard didn’t like in the Lakers offense is what made the Rockets good last season.

  1. loungefly74 - Jul 18, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    so…what are the Rockets’ goal this upcoming year? At least a trip to the WCF? anything less is a failure? The Rockets will be fun to watch…

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 18, 2013 at 5:38 PM

      I’m thinking 2nd round exit, but a battle, tooth and nail type would be what to expect. If the Lakers aren’t in the mix (of course), I’d hope they can win it all since that’s my 2nd team from my birth town. But that would be too much to expect. Maybe look for them to make a Thunder-like ascension where they make one full step up every year. Ex.: this year, 1st rd., next year 2nd rd., 3rd yr. 3rd rd. and so on.

  2. spankygreen - Jul 18, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Mike D’Antoni SUCKED IN New York, and will continue to SUCK in LA……Who will he throw under the bus next Kobe? maybe, because surely Kobe didn”t play his role according to Coach (used the term lightly) D…

    to hell with it, just ask Melo.

    Guy can’t coach………

  3. hijackthemic - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Now that Del Negro is out of the league, D’Antoni is officially the worst coach in the NBA. Any ignorant sports talk fan out there defending him and blaming Howard, do yourself a favor and switch that up immediately so you don’t sound like a total ******* idiot.

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