The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of work to do when it comes to sifting through their rotation. Plenty of guys are deserving of minutes, but a 14-man rotation simply won’t work during the regular season. This means guys like Dwight Howard could find themselves on the outside looking in.
Games like Friday, however, put him squarely back in the conversation to get regular minutes throughout the season. When the Lakers looked down and out in the fourth quarter, they brought in Howard and Rajon Rondo to clean things up, and the Lakers center turned back the clock for a vintage performance.
In total, Howard put up 23 points and 12 rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in 24 minutes. The Lakers wound up losing, but Howard absolutely had an unforgettable preseason moment.
He spoke about the outing and what it means for his role with the Lakers. “We know when we come in the game what we have to bring,” Howard said of him and Rondo. “That’s energy, effort and intensity, and that’s what we plan to do as soon as we get out there. Play as hard as we can. Change the game with our effort and I thought we did that tonight.”
While each game might present different challenges that require Howard to take a back seat to someone else, he’s excited to get into the paint and make a difference in most games.
“Every game is going to be different, but I want to beat them up in the paint. If I’m in the paint, I do whatever I can to get offensive rebounds. Get the other team in foul trouble, get them frustrated and that’s my game. That’s what this team needs.”
This is exactly why Howard was brought back so quickly during the offseason. In 2020-21, the Lakers clearly missed Howard’s presence in the paint and in the locker room. They needed a guy who was willing to accept a lesser role while still giving his all in the minutes he did get.
In 2021-22, keeping egos in check is going to be a major factor for L.A., and Howard is the perfect player to have for that type of roster.
Howard not worried about potential hand injury
Following the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Golden State Warriors on Friday, Howard had his hand wrapped. When asked about a possible injury, he quickly quelled any concern. “I was getting hit a lot. No calls. It’s okay. I’m going to keep going hard. … It was just swollen a little bit.”
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