Rockets plan to stop Howard
Dwight Howard may be one of the league's most dominant big men. The free throw line, however, is his kryptonite.
Sunday night was a frustrating one for the man known over the last several years as Superman. Howard's former team, the Magic, fouled him seven times (out of their eight fouls) after he checked into the game for the final time at the 7:08 mark with the Lakers up six. Howard hit seven of those 14 free throw attempts. Some of the fouls came when the Lakers were nowhere near shooting or even nowhere near the hoop. For the game, Howard shot 9-of-21 from the line. For the season, he's shooting free throws at a 46.5 percent clip. The Lakers lost 113-103 to the Magic on Sunday.
The Rockets noticed this strategy as they prepare to host the Lakers on Tuesday night.
"It worked," Chandler Parsons said. "I think it's smart to do it every now and then. I don't think you should rely on it. I think, hopefully, we're not in a situation where we have to do that, but it's up to the coaching staff and it obviously worked last night. If he's struggling like that, there's no reason to give him anything easy."
Parsons understands what Howard is going through. Even though Parsons' free throw percentage is a healthy 77 percent this season, the results were much different during his rookie year when he finished at 55 percent.
"The free throw struggles that I had last year, it's frustrating," he said. "It seems like nothing's going to go for you. So I can imagine thinking about what he's going through if you miss 11 in a row or something."
As frustrating as it may be for any player to be repeatedly and intentionally fouled, the Hack-a-Strategy is one that Kelvin Sampson is not afraid of using.
"We've done that with other players too," Sampson said. "I mean, I remember we were in Milwaukee and we beat Dallas playing Hack-a-Brendan (Haywood). I'm sure teams in the past have played Hack-an-Omer.
"If you have a choice of wrapping him (Dwight Howard) up or give him a dunk, then that's an easy decision. Make him make the free throws."