With Timofey Mozgov forced to sit out due to an eye contusion, the Los Angeles Lakers called upon rookie Ivica Zubac to shoulder the load as the starting center against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Zubac had a tall task ahead of him with the rookie set to go head-to-head against Dwight Howard.
Following Zubac’s debut and the Lakers’ first road win of the season, the Croatian center talked about going up against Dwight in his first NBA action in the regular season, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“It’s hard. You have to be between the basket and him and hope he’s going to miss,” Zubac said. “He can back down everyone. I was just holding my hands in the air and hoping he was going to miss.”
Zubac also talked about Howard’s being one of the dominant centers in the league over the last decade and how he used to be one of his favorite players in the past, via Medina:
“He was one of the best centers for the last 10 years. Everybody knew Dwight Howard,” Zubac said. “He was once one of my favorite players when he was playing for the Magic. He was the best center in the league at that time.”
Although Zubac got into foul trouble early in his debut for the Lakers, the rookie played well during his 19 minutes on the floor in Atlanta. Zubac went perfect from the field going 3-for-3 while also grabbing three rebounds and a steal.
The Lakers were able to pull off the come-from-behind victory over the Hawks before heading back to Los Angeles for Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors. Zubac may see more time on the floor on Friday with Mozgov listed as doubtful.