If you just look at the numbers Dwight Howard had a pretty good night at the free throw line — 9-of-17 overall and he hit 6-of-7 from the line late in the fourth quarter and overtime.
But that’s not the whole story.
With four minutes left and the Blazers down 10, coach Terry Stotts ordered hack-a-Howard — Nicolas Batum intentionally fouled Howard. And Howard proceeded to miss two free throws. Next Rockets possession Damian Lillard fouled Howard, and he again missed both free throws.
It forced Kevin McHale to substitute Patrick Beverley in for Howard until under the two minute mark (when intentional fouls off the ball carry a stiffer penalty). By the time Howard came back in it was a three point game,on its way to overtime and a Trail Blazers victory in the extra period.
Before the game Stotts joked he would go to hack-a-Howard on the first possession, but after the game he said you can expect to see it again, reports the Houston Chronicle.
“It prolonged the game for us, no matter what he did,” he said. “It gave us more opportunities….
“I think it has its place,” he said. “It can be disruptive at times and has helped some teams win. It’s an option that is always there.”
Which is to say, if we’re down late again and need a spark I’m doing this again.
And teams will keep doing it until it doesn’t work.