Its a "Free" Throw for Christ's sake!
When the Los Angeles Lakers lost yesterday to the Orlando Magic, I was more angry than anything else. Dwight Howard, one of the best big men the league has ever seen lost the game for them single-handedly. He did so with his abysmal free throw shooting. The Orlando players were happy to foul him and send him to the line, rather than having him dominate the post.
The Lakers were 25-39 from the free throw line which was 64.1 %. Howard was 9-21 which means the rest of the Lakers shot 16-18 at 88.89%. So when I say Howard cost them the game, I am backing it up with stats. His season percentage from the line is 46.5. In the last three games, he has shot 15-for-42 (35.7 percent) from the line which makes me want Andrew Bynum back and that is probably the worst insult to the six-time All Star. It is not going to be a secret any more. Teams are going to employ the Hack-a-Dwight henceforth and the Lakers are going to have to bench him in some crunch situations.
That’s not nice.
But that is not new to the Lakers either. Big man Shaq was subject to Hack-a-Shaq which was actually the introduction of the Hacking technique. Coach Don Nelson of the Mavs invented it to control the scores during the third quarter and the initial stages of the fourth. Shaq struggled and the Lakers struggled with him but they still won as Shaq was well, Shaq. He was a monster who couldn’t be stopped. Now Dwight Howard has to improve and improve quick. He has to start from the basics or he could be a liability to the Lakers. He could perhaps take some tips from his teammate Steve Nash who can shoot better than Howard, despite his fractured foot.
Nash is one of the greatest free-throw shooters ever. Here’s hoping Dwight can take something bigger than a leaf from Nash’s book and propel himself to that evasive First championship.
This reminds me of the time I used to play for my school and college. My eyes would sparkle at the opportunity of being fouled and getting a chance to shoot two from the line. Not because I was a great free throw shooter, but because it was FREE. We are Indians and we love everything that is free. So Dwight, here’s hoping you learn to respect what is free, because in the next few games, every team is going to send you to the line. Be the front’line’ player for your team in the absence of Nash.