Dwight Howard has sure been worth every penny that the Houston Rockets spent on him this past summer so far. Howard has been grabbing rebounds at a ridiculous rate, and controlling the paint on defense, but he played on a different level Tuesday night in the Rockets 116-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Nov 5, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) runs into Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
While he’s arguably the best center in the NBA, Howard’s game has always displayed several flaws: no post-up game, horrible free throw shooter, struggles against bigger, traditional centers. He put most of that to rest, finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds, on a remarkable 10 for 13 shooting from the field. Howard also shot a season best 9 of 12 from the free throw line, and displayed a low post game that he had worked on all summer with Hakeem Olajuwon. Blazers center Robin Lopez struggled to keep him in check all game, and picked up his fifth foul early in the 4th quarter.
“Dwight makes the whole game so much easier for each teammate,” James Harden said after the game. “He draws double-teams. He’s a great passer. He dominates the post and he can score it. He does everything.”
Harden finished with 33 points himself.
This performance comes a day after the Rockets were blown out at the Staples Center by the Los Angeles Clippers, in which Howard was met by the crowd with a chorus of boos, only to play his worst game of the season. With the bad tastes in their mouths, the Rockets came out with a vengeance, and played with that intensity consistently for 48 minutes.
“We got in at 3 a.m. last night,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “That was a tough one but we got a big win here tonight. James and Dwight had tremendous games.”
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