Dwight Howard barely saw the hardwood when the Los Angeles Lakers faced off with the Houston Rockets for the Western Conference Semifinals. Frank Vogel needed to match up with Houston’s run-and-gun style and there wasn’t much of a need of a traditional big.
But now that the Lakers have to find a way to contain Nikola Jokic, Howard could be in line for a huge role in the series. And if Game 1 gives us a hint of Vogel’s plan for the Western Conference Finals, Superman will definitely be the team’s X-Factor.
Howard turned back the clock with an outstanding defensive effort over Jokic. He was all over him on both ends of the floor, got him to make mistakes, pile up fouls, and was just never comfortable on the court. Afterward, he addressed his matchup with the Joker and issued him a bit of a warning:
“It’s nothing bad it’s just a competitive spirit inside of me. I appreciate his hard work and dedication to the game. This is a great opportunity for myself. I’m going to take advantage of any moment that I have on the floor and give my teammates and Laker Nation a 110%,” Howard said.
Dwight Howard told us the other day he loves to play against Nikola Jokic. When he checked in tonight, he wanted to show him he’s there — and maybe that Jokic should watch out off the court too. pic.twitter.com/nxYdJAiJn8
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) September 19, 2020
Howard had 13 points in 4/5 shooting, 3 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in just 16 minutes of action. He was +14 on a vintage effort that sealed a great bounceback season for the veteran.
As for Jokic, the Serbian big man looked worn out after two Game 7s and playing every other day but still managed to put up 21 points and 6 boards despite being banged up all night by Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee, and Howard.