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Rockets face Lakers but Dwight Howard wants to move on from that conversation

Nov 7, 2013, 12:26 PM EDT

“It’s another game.”

That was how Dwight Howard described facing the Lakers this Thursday. Just three words. Howard says he’s over all the drama of last season and the summer, the Lakers say they are over it, the fan bases say they are over it. Everyone says they have moved on and don’t want to talk or read about it.

Yet, like running into your ex-girlfriend at a bar just a month after you broke up, it’s still a meeting that is awkward and emotional. It stirs up feelings. For Howard and the Lakers that first meeting is Thursday night on Howard’s home turf in Houston (TNT, 10:30 ET).

Howard just doesn’t want to talk about it or hypotheticals.

“Listen, it’s over with man. I’m already out of there,” Howard said Monday night in Los Angeles where his Rockets lost their lone game this young season to the Clippers. “There’s no need to talk about what the Lakers could have did, I made my decision and I’m living with it. I’m happy where I’m at, I’m in a great place… I think everybody should move forward. It’s over with. This is my life. You don’t like it? So what.”

In Houston Howard is loved as the star who turned his back on the starlets for something real — James Harden and a well-constructed roster that can compete for a title the next few years (especially with a couple roster tweaks). Houston has the best offense in the NBA through five games and is outscoring opponents by 9.1 points per 100 possessions, third best in the NBA (Golden State and Indiana are ahead of them). The Rockets are 4-1 to start the season and while there’s a long way to go they look very good.

Howard made the right basketball decision. The Lakers’ roster and direction is in much more flux — they have cap space next summer but we’ll see what that can bring.

Still on Monday night the Los Angeles media that crowded around Howard postgame in the halls of Staples Center included a host of Lakers beat writers there because he left. In Los Angeles, him choosing to leave the storied Lakers franchise is still viewed as treasonous. Like he chose to dump Kate Upton.

Howard said he learned in Los Angeles last season how to tune that out.

“Not to allow what is being said to affect who I am as a person, to continue to lead this team despite whatever is going on on the outside,” Howard said of the lessons learned. “To be the guy for the team. We’ve got a lot of young players that look up to me, it’s my job not to let whatever happens off the floor, outside the locker room effect who I am as a person.”

As for the Thursday night game, the Kobe-less Lakers have been an up-and-down team — it was very down in Dallas Tuesday — but they can score points. The Lakers get out and run, and they move the ball well. They just can’t stop anyone. Through five games (small sample size theater) the Lakers have the third worst defense in the NBA, allowing 106.9 points per 100 possessions.

Put that up against the strong Rockets offense and it’s a recipe for real trouble for the Lakers.

But what will stun Lakers fans most is the quickness and energy with which Howard is playing — he is healthy again. Or close to it, he said he’s not 100 percent yet. But by his own admission Howard came back too early last season and between the back and shoulder injuries he was never right, never himself. Rockets coach Kevin McHale said when they signed Howard this summer and he came in for a physical team doctors were surprised the rough shape he was in. Howard spent another summer just on rehab and it shows.

He looks good. Which is going to be rough for Lakers fans, because the last thing you want to see when you run into your ex in the bar is for her to look smokin’ hot.

  1. kb2408 - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    If Kobe were playing this game would mean a little more because he would refuse to let the LAKERS lose to Dwight and the Rockets just to prove a point. However, even if that were the case, this game means little in the grand scheme of things. Most LAKERS fans realize that we are not a contender this season. Dwight and the Rockets are measured against the likes of OKC, San Antonio, the Clips, Golden St and Memphis. As much as it hurts to say that, it is the reality of the situation. And, by the way, the Rockets, and Dwight, failed miserably in their only measuring stick game thus far this season.

    • thebigcaptain2011 - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM

      The Rockets failed miserably against the Clippers? Well, by that definition the Heat will be terrible because they lost to Philly and the Bulls will miss the playoffs.
      I guess it’s my own fault for a user with the name kb2408 to give a rational and unbiased opinion.

      • sellahh - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        Clippers game was a measuring stick for Rockets because they both expect to be contenders. Philly game was meaningless for the Heat because it was against a lottery team. How hard is that to comprehend.

      • thebigcaptain2011 - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Measuring stick games start around Christmas. It’s way too early to even draw that conclusion. The Clippers failed miserably against the Lakers in their first Staples battle and while the Lakers suck this year, it still meant a lot to the Clips, in theory. The Clippers are still better than the Lakers regardless of the outcome.

      • kb2408 - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        We all know the Clips are better than the LAKERS. So is Houston. But the Rockets brought in Dwight to win a title. According to the experts, the Rockets have 2 of the top 5 players in the league. Therefore, they are judged by what they do against the other contenders. The Clips beat them like a drum.

  2. joshm5683 - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    In the end it probably was best for all parties. It may have dinged the Lakers ego a bit for a superstar to willingly leave LA……..but D12, while he was a super athlete, he isn’t that great at actual basketball. I was listening to a Bill Simmons podcast with Zach Lowe and they both agreed that this is kind of who Howard is right now and he will never be what he was in 2009-11. Hes still probably the best center in the game today, but his game probably won’t age very well. D12 once his athleticism starts to decline he won’t have a ton of moves or game to turn back to. I wish D12 the best and while Lakers fans won’t be happy for the next few years as D12 probably will be dominant……..look at 4 years from now when hes whining and complaining and physically breaking down……..

    • spthegr8 - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      AMEN to moving on from this story.!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      @kb24
      Well put. We are NOT a contender but as long as we play hard and compete every night. What more can you ask for.?? IMO, the Rockets are a very good team. With Dwight and Harden that’s a given, but I don’t think they are a contender either. I don’t think they can beat the Thunder, Spurs or the Clipps in a 7 game series. Not hating on them, just keeping it 100!!!

      @Josh
      I heard the same podcast and Bill Simmons is RIGHT!! The chance of him getting back to where he was in Orlando is slim too NONE!! He is older and had major back surgery. Could happen, but IMO, highly unlikely. Still the BEST center in the game, just not what he once was. Father time and Injury, are still undefeated!!!

      • spthegr8 - Nov 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        P.S. I forgot about the Warrior’s. They got a SQUAD this yr!!!! Would be a good series if they played the Rockets but the Warrior’s have a more complete team IMO!!

    • kb2408 - Nov 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      I agree…best for both parties. I would much rather watch the LAKERS struggle for a few seasons without Dwight than to have watched them give him a max contract and still not win the title. Look at the Knicks for example. They’re putting all their hopes in a player who, though very good, is not the type of player to lead them to a title. I’m referring to Melo. I look at Dwight in the same way. So, ultimately, you have a team that’s good enough to win 50-55 games a season but not good enough to win it all. Which, is another reason I don’t want Melo playing for the LAKERS next season.

  3. kingwithringz - Nov 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    He made the right decision. He couldn’t get along with the other superstar, so he chose the next best thing. He still is the #1 center in the league, and Kobe is still the best SG in the league.

    • spthegr8 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      @Kingwithringz
      AGREED!!!!!!

  4. asimonetti88 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    “Not to allow what is being said to affect who I am as a person, to continue to lead this team despite whatever is going on on the outside,” Howard said of the lessons learned.”

    Too bad he didn’t feel that way last year…

  5. belleby123 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I thought it was going to say “Dwight Howard wants to get all the coaches involved fired.”

  6. tomasekradek - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Lakers never been Dwights girlfriend, more of a one night call girl. Except D12 was the one who got paid. Have to admit thats well played by him.

  7. wtfruthinkn - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    “Rockets lost their lone game this young season to the Clippers”
    Um, Rockets have played 3 games already and won two of them. Do the writers proofread their articles?

  8. paulhargis53 - Nov 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    Don’t bother with logic and ky2408.

    They go together like vinegar and water.

    He won’t get that either.

  9. teambringitstrong - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    Young ins either are too stupid or too young to realize/remember that the Lakers didn’t win 16 NBA championships in 16 years. They’ve done it over SEVERAL decades. Yes, there were lean years in the 70s, 80s 90s and 2000s but they’ve ALWAYS come back with stellar squads. Hell, in 2007 they didn’t even make the playoffis!!

  10. pistolpete0903 - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Will the media let it go!!?
    I ain’t fan of either Howard or Lakers; but the media is making too much of it.
    Howard was injured for quite some time last season; both went their own ways amicably.
    Also, it’s not like as if he was a long time Laker.
    The media is making it sound as if there is lot of bad blood. It’s not like last year when he was playing against Orlando, where things got nasty during their divorce.

  11. Anoesis - Nov 8, 2013 at 1:55 AM

    “He looks good. Which is going to be rough for Lakers fans, because the last thing you want to see when you run into your ex in the bar is for her to look smokin’ hot.”

    Lakers’ fans ran into their “ex” in a strip joint down in Houston tonight. That slut wasn’t grinning and clowning around when she fell off the stage during her pole dance.

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