Arguably the biggest x-factor for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals has been veteran center Dwight Howard. The reserve big man saw just five minutes total in the second round against the Houston Rockets, but with the Denver Nuggets revolving around Nikola Jokic, Howard has played a big role in not only trying to limit the All-NBA center, but doing everything possible to get in his head.
Howard’s energy and physicality has been huge for the Lakers, but at times during the series he has seemed to go a little too far with his actions. But it hasn’t been just his attempts at pushing Jokic around, as he has not only talked trash to him, but Howard has also constantly harped on the officials.
In Game , however, the referees had apparently had enough of Howard’s antics. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, officials gave Howard a warning following a comment in the second quarter:
Jerami Grant, who finished with 26 points, was at the free-throw line midway in the second period, and Howard uttered an obscene remark in the direction of the officials. It was apparently so off-putting that official Marc Davis shouted, “Hey, cut that out now! Are you serious? I’ve heard that twice now. Twice. Cut it out now!” Howard got off with a stern warning, but he was visibly irritated.
There is a very thin line for Howard in this series and he is in danger of crossing it. The Lakers need his physicality and energy, and he has been an important part of the team’s success in this series, but Howard can’t afford to go overboard.
These days, most players are constantly talking to the officials and complaining about calls and it seems like no one believes they have ever committed a foul. Talking to the officials is one thing, but if Howard is making comments towards them in this manner, he’ll need to reign that in as his positive influence could quickly turn negative.
Jokic not worried about Howard matchup
Howard versus Jokic has been one of the most watched matchups throughout the series as the Lakers big man has done everything in his power to throw the Nuggets star off his game. At times it has seemed to work with Jokic appearing visibly frustrated, but he insists that he isn’t bothered with Howard’s actions.
“He’s a big guy, he knows his role, he’s doing it really well,” Jokic said. “But it’s not just me against him, it’s Nuggets against Lakers. To be honest, I don’t think about it. Whoever is over there, I’m going to try to beat him, try to win the game. It is what it is. Again, I say it’s not just me against them, it’s Nuggets against Lakers.”
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