Whicker: Dwight Howard takes flight again as Lakers shake off Charlotte

first_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs PreviousCharlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsCharlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller, right, shoots while Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, center, defends as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, left, speaks with David Beckham prior to an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, right, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, center, goes up for a shot while Charlotte Hornets guard Malik Monk, right, and PJ Washington defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier, right, goes up for a shot while Los Angeles Lakers center JaVale McGee, left, and Anthony Davis defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham, right, loses the ball while Los Angeles Lakers guard Quinn Cook defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, drives to the basket while Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, is fouled by Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier while driving to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) dunks the ball while Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) looks on during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, front, dunks the ball past Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, left, and JaVale McGee during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, left, steals the ball away from Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, goes up for a shot past Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, right, speaks with head coach Frank Vogel during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)NextShow Caption1 of 15Charlotte Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard battle for the rebound during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. The Lakers won 120-101. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)ExpandLOS ANGELES — If he plays this way against all his former teams, that’s seven victories right there.Dwight Howard was the puddle-jumper version of Superman Sunday night. He hit all eight shots, got 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and scored 16 points in not quite 23 minutes for the Lakers against Charlotte, which was Superman’s next-to-last stop on what looked like a farewell tour.He was reduced to a return to the Lakers, cape in hand, and he had to promise that he would stay in a narrowly defined lane, and keep in mind that other Lakers were in charge of the flight plan.Few groups are louder than Laker fans scorned, but the peevish booing they hurled at Howard has now turned to rejoicing. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and nothing more Sunday night. “All of that stuff before, the way I played and the way I used to act, that’s not me anymore,” Howard said. “I kept telling myself that if it was 30 seconds, two minutes, 15 minutes, I was going to do whatever it took to help my team win.”“He scored the way we wanted him to score,” Vogel said. “He was crashing, going to the basket, but defensively was where he was dominant. He was getting that above-everybody-else types of rebounds. He has shown bursts throughout camp. Tonight he was off the charts.”The Lakers were shoddy defensively, particularly in transition, for much of the game, against a team that has a seat reserved at the 2020 lottery table. They didn’t guard the 3-pointer well, and they missed 20 of 31 three-pointers, with Danny Green going 1 for 5.But they have a lot of Plan Bs, and a very reliable AD. Anthony Davis had 29 points and 14 rebounds, beat people off the dribble, swished 3-pointers, brought the ball downcourt, blocked shots, and kept the Lakers afloat in the first half. No matter how good you thought Davis was, he is better than that. To see him stretch himself amid all this other help, particularly when Kyle Kuzma returns, will be revelatory.Caruso, the G League veteran and the sacrificial point guard in so many what’s-the-point Lakers games last year, had a major effect for the second consecutive game. He came into the third quarter, and somehow the Lakers started flowing. If you like plus-minus, he was plus-17 in 13 minutes.“He is creating good problems for me,” Vogel said, smiling.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“He was a star in his role,” coach Frank Vogel said.“I told him at one point that we needed more energy from him,” Alex Caruso said, “and he said he knew it, and he went out there and gave it to us. We see him every day. He’s dunking like he is 21 again.”The Lakers needed Howard, and a late punch from Caruso, and a solid fourth quarter from LeBron James to dispose of the Hornets, 120-101. They only led by a point going into the fourth quarter, but they shot 62 percent the rest of the way, and that’s when Howard got three of his blocks.Howard would be far from the first bounce-back star to win an NBA championship, but few have been asked to overcome such revulsion. In Houston, he and James Harden could barely fit into the same arena. He passed through Atlanta, Charlotte and Washington, where he missed all but nine games with a bad back that needed surgery.Before that, of course, he was a towering figure with Orlando, having led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals. Eight times he was an NBA All-Star, and his rebounding and blocked-shot numbers are better than many Hall of Fame residents. But he was damaged goods, and not just physically. Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed But Howard put the buzz in the building Sunday.“The fans and I have been through a lot,” he said brightly. “I’m trying to keep the fans up with the hype at this point. I’m the hype man.“The joy comes from being out on the court after missing the whole year with back injuries, and not being able to do nothing but be in the bed. I’m going to express it the best I can. But in order for us to win, we have to play that fourth quarter in every quarter. We can’t play around with teams like this. You saw what happened with the Clippers and Phoenix last night. They didn’t take the game as seriously as they should, I didn’t think, and they lost.”At some point a player sees that he’s closer to the descent than the takeoff.“Every moment counts,” Howard said. “It counts from the weight room to the training room to everywhere else. If I do my job 100 percent every night, it will put us in a good position.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers last_img read more