The Los Angeles Lakers have won three-straight games and have drastically improved their chances at making the NBA Playoffs. That seemed rather unlikely as they came into the month of February at just 20-26. One of the major players in their recent ascent in the standings has been the much-maligned Dwight Howard, who has been playing fantastically.
Howard has been laboring for much of this season. Some people have questioned his effort for the Lakers, though the likely problems with his play are his shoulder injury and the fact that has been recovering from back surgery. However, over the past week, he has seemed rejuvenated. He has shown signs of life since the All-Star break, but hadn’t shown much consistency. That seems to be changing.
Over his last three games, Howard has averaged 20 points, 16.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per contest. All of those numbers are up from his season averages of just 16.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Also impressive about his recent play is that he has maintained a field goal percentage above 57 percent.
On Tuesday night, the Lakers play the Orlando Magic in Orlando. This will be Howard’s first game in Orlando since he essentially forced the Magic to trade him to Los Angeles. Emotions will indubitably be high, but the Lakers and Howard can’t get wrapped up in all of that.
The Lakers have a record of 33-31, the same record as the Utah Jazz, the current occupiers of the eight-seed in the Western Conference. With just 18 games remaining in the regular season, every win is incredibly valuable, particularly for this Lakers team that is trying to claw their way into the postseason. They’ve been playing much better lately and Howard has been a big part of that. If they want to continue their recent success, though, Howard and the team can’t slip up because of the emotions that will be running high in Orlando on Tuesday.