The Los Angeles Lakers are not who we thought they are. All that talk that they could win 70 games has proven to be just a fantasy. The team is below .500 and there are a ton of issues. However, they could help matters out by benching star center Dwight Howard late in close games.
I understand that Pau Gasol and Steve Nash are not playing, but this team should still be winning. It all comes down to Hack-a-Howard late in games. Teams are forcing the big center to make free throws and he simply cannot do it. It is almost like a mental block and it is hurting his team. It goes much deeper than him leaving points on the board.
It almost looks like it demoralizes the team on defense. After watching Howard clank a big free throw, the Lakers almost always seem to give up points. Their heads are hanging and no one wants to rotate. Even with Howard anchoring the defense, the pick and roll defense is putrid.
Here’s the thing. You can bring back Howard in to play defense. He does not need to be out there the entire time. There are plenty of dead balls for the team to bring him back in, but they are not doing anything to help the situation right now. Kobe Bryant is playing out of his mind and it is all for naught right now.
The ship should righten soon but this is painful to watch right now. Until Howard starts making free throws, the Lakers can’t afford to play him late.