Dwight Howard made his much-anticipAted (and maligned) return to Orlando last night with the Los Angeles Lakers and played a starring role in the Purple and Gold’s 106-97 win over the Magic.
Dwight Howard rose above the boos and put in a stellar performance to lead the LA Lakers to a road win with a season-high 39 points and 16 rebounds. To say there was a hostile atmosphere for the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year would be an understatement. Upon entering the Amway Arena, a chorus of boos rang out that would’ve been audible all the way back in Los Angeles. However, Howard shrugged it off and put in one of his best performances to date in a Laker jersey.
Howard has often been labelled as a poor free throw shooter, but maintains that he shot 80% in high school. This was evident during last night’s game when Jacque Vaughn’s Magic side constantly fouled the big man, sending him to the line 39 times, equalling an NBA record Howard set with Orlando. Howard didn’t get angry with the ‘Hack-A-Howard’ strategy and instead excelled in the final three-quarters with his foul shots. He completed 25-0f-39 overall and finished with 39 points.A number of aggressive jams in the paint epitomised how motivated the seven-time All Star was and Orlando had no answer.
Jameer Nelson finished with 21 points and 7 assists for the Magic, while Arron Afllalo had 17 points and 2 assists. Tobias Harris had also had 17 points, and finished with a career-high 15 rebounds. Kobe Bryant continued his role as facilitator for LA and finished with 11 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. The win sees the Lakers improve to 34-31 for and into the eight play-off spot in the Western Conference. The Magic have lost seven of their last ten and are just 18-47.
NBA Results 12/03/13:
BOS 74-100 CHA
LAL 106-97 ORL
NOH 98-108 BKN
ATL 81-98 MIA
DAL 115-108 MIL
SAS 83-107 MIN
MEM 102-97 POR