Even in our wildest dreams no Lakers fan worth their weight in Phil Jackson laments could have expected Dwight Howard to be his old self once the season began. Just the fact that Howard was healthy enough to participate in preseason action was amazing in itself given the initial timeline for his recovery from back surgery.
With that said its no secret that Howard hasn’t been the player most expected. His explosiveness hasn’t been there. His haunting presence in the paint has been largely a myth.
Now nobody would dare blame Howard for the Lakers undeniably awful first half of the season. It’s not like the guy’s production has dipped to Pau Gasol depths (yeah, that was a shot at the Spaniard). Still there was an element missing from Howard’s game that we all knew was a direct result of his continued recovery.
Well in case you’ve already checked out on this season then you might have missed the official arrival of Howard in Purple and Gold.
In fact last night’s 104-88 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks might have featured Howard’s best performance as a Laker.
In the first quarter alone you saw the Howard of old as Dwight ran the floor, patrolled the paint and owned the glass. The end result was a tone-setting 8 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks in the first 12 minutes of action. That would be the foundation for a 31-point, 16-board and 4-block effort.
Granted we are talking about the Bucks. None the less its performances like these that will translate no matter the opposition.
More to the point Howard’s last three games have been eye openers as he’s averaging 22 points and 18 boards on a video game-esque 80% shooting.
With Kobe Bryant having perhaps his most efficient season ever and Howard finally getting his legs underneath him we could be looking at that reversal of fortune the hoops world has been expecting. On Thursday the Lake Show takes the spotlight once again as the Miami Heat come to town for a nationally televised contest sure to be the talk of the league for at least a few hours. Perhaps that will also serve as the reintroduction of a dominant Dwight Howard to the NBA.