There were two parts to the Lakers dramatic comeback win, when the Lakers outscored the Hornets 33-9 in the fourth quarter. One part was Kobe Bryant taking over on the offensive end of the floor. He gets most of the kudos and most of the highlights because his effort is easy to quantify.
The other part was Dwight Howard owning the paint and taking over the defensive end of the court. Notice the Hornets only scored nine points in the fourth, that maters more than the 33 — the Lakers had scored all night they just weren’t getting stops for three quarters. Howard did have a highlight defensive play, this block of Robin Lopez that sealed the Lakers win. It deserves some notice.
If the Lakers make the playoffs — they are now just 1.5 games back of the Jazz — this game will be a defining moment for the Lakers. Howard is a part of that.
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It could happen, they are certainly contenders. But two things need to happen.
The big one is their defense, which was middle of the pack last season, needs to move into the top 10 (and DeAndre Jordan needs to play consistently like a guy who is third in Defensive Player of the Year voting).
Second is the new and improved bench unit of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford (he’s not new) need to mesh into a unit. Those are three guys who like to create for themselves and make questionable shot choices, getting them play well with others could be a bumpy road.
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