Dwight Howard had his best game since Kobe Bryant was released from the Lakers to clear his mind.
Howard, 28, had 25 points and 18 rebounds, eight points and a whopping 21 rebounds. He also had eight blocked shots in the Los Angeles Clippers' 106-89 win over the Lakers at Staples Center on Friday night.
“Coming into the game, I had Kobe on my mind,” said Howard, who is trying to adjust to new coach Doc Rivers, his former coach in Orlando and in Washington. “I wanted to go out and give it my all.”
How do you describe Howard’s power game? You can’t. His game allows him to score around the basket. He can use his passing and leaping ability to be a threat on the perimeter.
“He’s a well-rounded player,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who was also Howard’s coach in Washington. “He’s got a high basketball IQ. He’s a talented rebounder. He knows what we’re trying to do on defense. He’s physically quick for someone his size. He can do things with his body that other players can’t do with their size.
“He’s a tremendous person. He’s got terrific work ethic. He’s intense. He doesn’t want to lose, which I respect. I wish he would have been a little more intense as a coach.”
Howard is averaging 12.2 points and 12.6 rebounds in his second season with the Clippers. He has always said he still has more he can do, and that it will come with time. The Clippers had Bryant as their home-games center for 14 seasons.
“I’m building momentum and I need to keep on building momentum,” Howard said. “That’s what I want to do.”
He has grown an average of one pound per year since being released from the Lakers. He’s been surrounded by a lot of newcomers, including Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic.
“I feel like I’m pretty good. It’s like a constant learning process,” Howard said. “When it all clicks, it will be different.”
He said he would like to come back for the 2021-22 season.
“That’s what I want to do,” he said. “But at the same time, I know what’s up. I have to take the right steps with the right plan.”
Rivers wouldn’t reveal if the Clippers would trade for the draft rights to LeBron James, especially after ESPN reported Friday that the Lakers had lost the right to have the right to negotiate with him. The NBA and the Lakers have since reached an agreement on draft rights rights to four players selected by New York in the draft of 2007. That means if the Lakers traded for James, then they couldn’t negotiate with him or his agents during the first six years of his deal, even if they were acquired by trade.
Can I bring out my card?