Mike D’Antoni welcomes ‘Hack-a-Howard’

Dwight Howard celebrates after throwing down the dunk.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers have finally climbed above .500 to 6-5 despite losing point guard Steve Nash in the second game of the season to a leg injury.

Through 11 games, center Dwight Howard has averaged 20.3 points, 11.7 boards and 2.8 blocks a game. He’s hitting 61.8% of his shots from the floor. However, he’s struggled in two areas: turnovers (3.4 a night) and free throw shooting (48.4%).


On Tuesday night, Howard’s aim was so off, Brooklyn Nets Coach Avery Johnson asked his players to foul Howard away from the ball to put him on the line. Howard finished with 23 points but hit just 7-19 free throws.

“The free throws will come,” Howard said. “They’ll get there. Just gotta keep playing.”

He noted that the fans at Staples Center helped him through a rough night.

“I think the fans tonight, they booed for a second, and then a lot of fans started cheering,” Howard said after the game. “The fans did a great job cheering me on.”

Of course he’s not going to get that kind of crowd support on the road. Coach Mike D’Antoni said he’s not worried about Howard at the line.

“If they start hacking Dwight and he’s making out of two, so that is one point per possession, that’s pretty good basketball, especially down the stretch,” D’Antoni said. “If they want to do that, that’s great. I’ve got no problem.”

The Lakers missed 18 of 37 free throw attempts, and climbed to just 51.4% on a whistle with 0.2 seconds left in the game that gave Bryant the chance to put the team up over 50%.

It’s difficult to overcome 18 points left on the line, but the Lakers managed to get enough stops against the Nets to gut out a win.


Lakers, Mike D’Antoni all about pace

Can Lakers’ Mike D’Antoni get anything out of Meeks or Ebanks?

Kupchak: Lakers didn’t want coaching hire based on public pressure

You can email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.