There was a striking resemblance between the later Laker championship teams and the Houston Rockets, as shown by last night. Down the stretch, the Houston Rockets were a two-dimensional team, relying on Dwight Howard in the post to create scoring opportunities, or giving Harden the basketball at the top of the key. We know Harden is essentially playing Bryant’s role, but Dwight Howard was trying to recapture his 2009 Orlando Magic years.
The score went back and forth late in the game. Portland did a much better job with ball movement and offensive creativity, leaving Houston scrambling on defense. They hit some tough shots. Unlike Houston, they also had open shots.
Dwight Howard was hitting his free throws late in the game. He was blocking shots. He did a very good job in the post with his shot opportunities. When it came down to it, late in overtime, he had a turnover. Turnovers are easy when the offense is so unpredictable. He has yet to learn how to read defenses and sense where the double team is coming. While the Rockets kept the game close in the end, it’s that one turnover that cost the game.
He put his money in James Harden‘s hands, and Harden didn’t come through. While last night’s game was understandably frustrating for Dwight Howard, several things did come to light.
- He proved he’s not ready to be a #1 option.
- He still hasn’t learned to pass well out of the post.
- It’s on him to make the championship team, not James Harden.
It’s not so much about the coaching, the team, or the system. He’s getting the opportunities that he wants in the post. It didn’t work out for him. That $30 million should have been bet on himself, not the Houston Rockets. Maybe, just maybe, if he bet on Kobe Bryant instead, he would be winning.
Maybe, just maybe, if he bet on himself, he would have been winning as a Laker.
Kobe Bryant learned early on, the sacrifices required by individual players to create greater team success. The first set of championship runs weren’t necessarily on his terms, but he won three in the process.
Dwight Howard had opportunities last year to show who he was as a player. Even in his prime, he’s still not ready for a championship.