There has been a real growth in the variety of Dwight Howard’s post game the past two years. Nobody is going to confuse him with Pau Gasol — for a few reasons — but Howard is not all power moves and dunks now. He has a little running hook down the lane and has a respectable face up jumper from 10-12 feet (often using the Tim Duncan bank method).
Howard worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon for three days last summer, learning moves and counters from the master. Saturday the teacher came to see his pupil play in Houston, and told the Orlando Sentinel he liked what he saw.
“He can do so much more,” Olajuwon said before he spoke with Howard in the Magic’s locker room. “It’s so easy. You can see the potential that he can do so much more. Unbelievable…
“You see all the moves that we worked on, the steps and the recognition of what they’re giving him. He had 22 points, but he could easily get 30 or 35 easily. I saw opportunities that were just missed. With time, it’ll just get better.”
Stan Van Gundy would like a little credit for the improvement, too. And Howard should get credit for getting in the gym and doing the hard work of repetition to make the moves smooth.
But sometimes hearing a lesson — even a lesson you’ve heard before — from a new and respected voice can make it really register. Howard has said those sessions gave him a confidence to use those moves more.
Frankly there is plenty of credit to go around, especially if this newfound offensive game translates into more playoff wins. And Olajuwon is right, it all could get better, too.
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.
The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.
Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.
With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.
Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.
Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.
When Stephen Curry wore a headband through the All-Star Game last weekend, West coach Steve Kerr jokingly called him “Seth” all night.
Dallas’ Seth Curry came out of the week-long break playing like an All-Star. He dropped 31 on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night, a career high for him. He hit 13-of-17 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, but did a lot of his damage in the midrange.
It wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves got a comfortable 97-84 win behind 27 points from Andrew Wiggins and 26 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nerlens Noel was not yet with his new team in time to play for the Mavs in this game.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points despite foul trouble and the San Antonio Spurs shook off the rust from a nine-day layoff to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 on Friday night for their third straight win.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in his return from a 15-game absence because of a fractured finger. LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 12 rebounds.
Blake Griffin scored 29 points for the Clippers, who have dropped consecutive games to the league’s two winningest teams since the All-Star break ended. They lost by 10 points at Golden State a night earlier. The Spurs have the league’s second-best record at 44-13.
Chris Paul added 17 points in his return after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.