Oct. 30: 99-91 loss to Dallas. Free throw shooting: three-of-14
Nov. 20: 95-90 win over Brooklyn. Free throw shooting: seven-of-19
Nov. 27: 79-77 loss to Indiana. Free throw shooting: three-of-12
Dec. 2 113-103 loss to Orlando. Free throw shooting: nine-of-21
Dec. 4 107-105 loss to Houston. Free throw shooting: eight-of-16
The Lakers are currently 8-10 – tied for the 4th worst record in the Western Conference. Based on the information given above, the team could easily be 11-7 with a few more free throws made by Howard.
It’s a serious situation and a dilemma for the team, because on one hand, they want the franchise player of its future on the floor in the most important moments of a game. On the other hand, teams are openly hacking Howard to get him to the line, where he has failed to deliver time after time.
Mike D’Antoni isn’t putting much blame on Howard’s poor free throw shooting , however, and he doesn’t plan on sitting the big man during crunch time either, according to Mark Medina of L.A. Daily News:
Q: On whether why he didn’t and won’t sit Howard, who hit 5 of the 10 free throws he was awarded when Houston intentionally fouled him every trip up the floor starting at the 3:18 mark and lasting through 2:09.
D’Antoni: You don’t do that to a guy, and he made his foul shots. He’s not the reason that our defense breaks down, he’s not the reason that stuff happens. He’s gotta work through this. You take him out now, and what are you going to do, take him out all the time? You have a player that’s going to be your franchise player and you don’t do that to him. It’s not him that’s causing the problem. It’s not a good thing, a knee-jerk kind of reaction … he’s fine. That’s not a problem. He made the last 4 out 6, and you have to go up and knock them down, and he will. We shouldn’t even be talking about that, because it shouldn’t come down to that. We shouldn’t have had 19 turnovers, and we shouldn’t lose our guys on a switch or on the perimeter. That’s not him; he’s doing a hell of a job, and he will continue to do that, and we’ll work through this.
You have to wonder, though, if D’Antoni’s methods would be a tad different if Howard wasn’t set to become a free agent in the upcoming summer.