Score Strip

  1. League: NBA
  2. Golden State vs. Denver
    Live
    :29.0 4th
    111 GS
    108 DEN
  3. LA Clippers vs. Portland
    Live
    1:41 4th
    100 LAC
    106 POR
  4. Indiana vs. Orlando
    Final
    101 IND
    86 ORL
  5. Chicago vs. Charlotte
    Final OT
    86 CHI
    91 CHA
  6. Washington vs. Boston
    Final
    118 WAS
    102 BOS
  7. Houston vs. New Orleans
    Final
    100 HOU
    105 NO
  8. Brooklyn vs. Cleveland
    Final
    85 BKN
    114 CLE
  9. Philadelphia vs. Miami
    Final
    100 PHI
    87 MIA
  10. Atlanta vs. Milwaukee
    Final
    111 ATL
    103 MIL
  11. Utah vs. Minnesota
    Final 2OT
    136 UTA
    130 MIN
  12. Toronto vs. New York
    Final
    92 TOR
    95 NY
  13. LA Lakers vs. San Antonio
    Final
    113 LAL
    100 SA
  14. Detroit vs. Oklahoma City
    Final
    111 DET
    112 OKC
  15. Dallas vs. Memphis
    Final OT
    105 DAL
    106 MEM
  16. Phoenix vs. Sacramento
    Final
    104 PHO
    99 SAC
  17. View All

Rockets' Howard still hearing the boos in Los Angeles return

Reuters
NBA: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers
.

View photo

Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) and Los Angeles Clippers center Byron …

By Jahmal Corner

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Dwight Howard may have left Los Angeles to join the Houston Rockets, but the big man still cannot escape his turbulent Lakers chapter.

A jilted fan base still ruing his California departure and questioning his motives for leaving greeted him on Monday as the Rockets faced the Los Angeles Clippers in Staples Center, where the Lakers also play their home games.

The Clippers battered the Rockets 137-118 and Howard bore the brunt of the blows in his first visit to the arena since he walked away from the Lakers as a free agent in the off-season.

The passionate crowd booed Howard from pregame warmups until the final buzzer, leaving the big man to wonder whether he had just played in front of "undercover Lakers fans."

He once again defended his decision to become a Rocket.

"Houston is a great place, this is a great team. I'm happy with where I'm at," Howard told reporters following the defeat. "Everybody should move forward. This is my life. I can't control what other people do with their lives."

Howard managed to play just 26 minutes against the Clippers due to early foul trouble and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds while the Rockets clearly missed his presence in surrendering a scoring explosion.

"Dwight is our anchor on the defensive end. It always helps to have him out there," said Houston coach Kevin McHale. "That never helps us (when he's in foul trouble)."

The defeat was the first of the season for Houston (3-1) which has enjoyed an early honeymoon with Howard.

Since signing a four-year, $88 million dollar contract with the Rockets, Howard has looked intent on proving his worth.

He appears slimmer, and healthier than he was a season ago when he was plagued by back and shoulder issues, and is back to ferocious defending and rebounding after grabbing 26 boards in the Rockets' season opener.

"I'm not 100 percent, (but) I'm doing whatever I can to feel better and feel good," Howard said. "(Houston) is a great city, I love it."

Howard's love for his newfound city is the last thing Los Angeles fans want to hear. They are still stung by a disastrous 2012-2013 season that included tension between Howard and Kobe Bryant, and saw championship ambitions ultimately dissolve into a first-round playoff exit.

Howard's own exit was the final bitter pill as he rejected the NBA's glamour franchise and even took less money to join Houston.

His Staples Center visit was a reminder of those hard feelings and they will only deepen when he returns to play the Lakers on February 19.

"It's just another game," Howard said, of the prospect of seeing the Lakers. "It's over with. I'm out of there."

But as the fans have indicated, all is not forgotten.

(Editing by Gene Cherry)

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