Howard returns home
Dwight Howard returned to Orlando on Tuesday for the first time since he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past off-season. As expected, the Orlando Magic fans did not welcome him with open arms. Howard was booed most of the night and welcomed with hostile signs and jerseys.
Howard did not seem bothered by the hostile environment and actually looked like he was having fun for a change. He finished the game with 39 points, 16 rebounds and was sent to the free throw line 39 times. The Magic attempted a “Hack a Howard” game plan in the second half. The game plan backfired as Howard was somehow able to hit 16 of 20 free throws in the second half. The Lakers were able to get the win 106-97.
After the game Howard remained positive about the fans in Orlando. He stated that he left the court still thankful for the support he got during his eight years in Orlando. “I wasn’t nervous tonight. I was looking forward to playing here,” Howard said. “It was a hostile environment, but I think that was something that was good for me. For my progress as a player, I think I needed that tonight.” This was a huge game for Howard’s confidence moving forward. The Lakers have now won 4 straight games and are currently 8th in the Western conference. Los Angeles is now 3 games over .500 for the first time all season and seem to be finding a rhythm at both ends of the floor.
The Magic on the other hand continue to struggle. Orlando is currently the 2nd worst team in the NBA at 18-47 and have not won back to back games since the month of December. The rebuilding Magic shot just 37 percent (17 for 46) from the field against the Lakers. Jameer Nelson scored 21 points, but also had six of Orlando’s 14 turnovers.