Drew Gooden guards Dwight Howard. No wonder Dwight wanted the ball (Getty Images)
Pretty good get, Fox Sports Wisconsin's Paul Imig, scoring an exclusive interview with Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard following his team's victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night, complaining about how he wants the ball more late in games.
Really weird timing, Orlando Magic All-Star Dwight Howard, in complaining about not getting the ball enough late in contests after your team put together a fantastic fourth-quarter comeback (including a 16-0 run) on the road to take down the Bucks. Especially after you played the entire second half and missed 6 of 9 shots. But there Howard was, talking exclusively to Imig, about how he'd like the ball more late:
"I do want the ball more in the fourth quarter," a frustrated Howard told FOX Sports exclusively after the game. I want to become a closer. The only way you get there is by getting the ball and have coach have the confidence in giving me the ball. That's how Kobe (Bryant) and the rest of the great fourth-quarter players got that way. It's trial and error. When Kobe first got in the league, it took him a while to become the killer he is in the fourth quarter now. Coach just needs to have confidence in me."
Interesting timing, thought process, and hero, Dwight Howard.
Taking the half-full approach, it's warming to note that Howard possibly sees this is as a challenge. That he wants the greater responsibility of being someone his team can lean on, late, and that he's open to the slings and arrows that would come with his trial and error period.
Taking the half-empty approach? There's everything else.
Kobe Bryant, as has been noted everywhere for years, is not exactly a fourth-quarter "killer." His shooting percentage is terrible in clutch situations, and though the Lakers (for years) worked as the top-ranked offensive team overall, they jump down to below the middle of the pack offensively in fourth quarters mainly because Kobe takes and misses a lot of shots that nobody seems to remember. Bryant hit a game-winner on Sunday, but before that shot he was four of his last 25 in clutch situations (close game, less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter or overtime).
Then there's the fact that while isolation ball late in games is a fool's game overall, it's about the fooliest fools game of all when you dump the ball into the post for a last second look. Teams that abandon their offense to go with one-on-one games late are often on the losing end of things, but at the very least with someone like Kobe or any other perimeter player you can get a potential pass once a double team comes that leads to something open and obvious. In the post? Things aren't as spread out.
Then there's the part about where Howard misses about half his free throws.
Then there's the part about how Howard really isn't the smoothest offensive player overall.
Then there's the part where we ask why, Dwight, you would choose to bring this up after a win? After one where you shot poorly in the second half? After your teammates pulled out a huge comeback? And in the middle of a season like this, where you've all but demanded a trade and have cast a pall over your team with your seemingly eventual decision to leave Orlando?
Dwight has to talk, though. We can't tell him not to, and a February game in Milwaukee on a Saturday night is about as anonymous as NBA games come. Players are bound to get frustrated regardless of how good things are going, and interviews like this will pop up from time to time. And in terms of overall fourth-quarter play, it's always good to go inside-out. Dwight should be getting touch after touch after touch even if he doesn't end up taking a single shot in the second half. He can be the biggest part of his team's offense simply by registering the pass that leads to the assist that leads to the score.
And, again, it's good to note that Dwight is acting for more responsibility. He's not dumping on his teammates, as he's done before. And, frankly, was right to do before in a vacuum that eliminates the influence of his trade demands.
Dwight, and his team, aren't currently working in that vacuum. And while we want and encourage players to pass on serving us milquetoast after games, does he not see how bad this looks? Do you not see how bad this looks?
If not, check out one of the last quotes Imig attributed to Howard before the end of his column:
"That's why they call me Superman."
- Dwight Howard
- Orlando Magic