In a series that featured polar opposite styles of play, the Los Angeles Lakers ironically won by defeating the Houston Rockets at their own game.
The Lakers opted to go small in order to better defend the Rockets, and it worked as they went on to dominate the series in five games. Anthony Davis was the key for the lineup shift as the big man was able to defend the paint while still being able to contain Houston’s shooters along the arc.
While Davis dominated at the five spot, it also meant excising Dwight Howard from the rotation. Howard only played meaningful minutes in Game 1 while his counterpart JaVale McGee was removed from the starting lineup after Game 3.
It must have been disappointing for the two to not see the floor, but Howard said he and McGee are staying ready. “Of course me and JaVale would like to play, we wanted to play, but it was the lineup our coaches felt was going to be best for us to win,” Howard acknowledged.
“We did what was best for the team. Me and JaVale always stay ready, we train as hard as anybody, and we know when we step on the floor we have one job to do, and that’s to dominate. That’s what we’re most looking forward to.”
Although the two did not play much after Frank Vogel said they would have a role against the Rockets, Howard and McGee should see more time as they try to contain Nikola Jokic.
Jokic has been playing like a superstar in the playoffs, and the center duo will need to do their best to slow him down to give the purple and gold their best shot to win and advance.
Howard explains effect of having fun on bench
Howard has been a model teammate in his second stint for the Lakers, often seen on the sidelines cheering the guys on after plays.
He and McGee make for an entertaining tandem, but Howard expressed that there is more to their bench antics. “I think a lot of people on the outside take it as fun, but we take it as a way of staying engaged in the game,” Dwight explained.
“My talking to the opponent, watching the different coverages, just in case our names were called, we have an opportunity to go out there and know what we have to do. We just try to keep our energy up, and at the same time, it is fun. But we’re totally locked in. I don’t want people to take us having fun and jumping around as we’re not locked in helping this team win a championship.
“We also understand energy is very important, and if our spirits are down, like they always say, one bad apple can spoil the basket. It’s the same thing. If we’re down on our energy, it can get contagious, it can go to another player.
“We’ve just got to look at all the positives despite what we may be going through, there’s a lot of people going through things that are a lot worse.”
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