Center Dwight Howard knew for a fact that he would receive some heavy boos when returning to face his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Houston Rockets absolutely obliterated the Lakers from start to finish in this game. Howard put up 20 points and 13 rebounds in only three quarters of play against a Lakers team that didn’t seem to care enough to put in effort.
Houston was able to rest their starters for the entirety of the fourth quarter, dropping over 100 points through three. After last season with the Lakers, Howard was criticized for being a mentally soft player who lost a step in recent years. With the Orlando Magic, Howard was considered hands-down the best center in the NBA, but his stock dropped after last season with the Lakers.
People didn’t completely write him off, but he was not as highly regarded like he was for his entire career.
Since arriving in Houston, Howard has answered any and all questions about him. He has gotten his mobility and explosiveness back after having serious back surgery about a year and a half ago. Additionally, Howard has been able to play more of his game with the Rockets. The duo of Howard and James Harden has allowed for several pick-and-roll plays this season, unlike last season with the Lakers. Howard’s game as a whole has benefited on the defensive end as well with his increased involvement in the offense.
When Dwight is happy, he plays better — plain and simple. The Rockets’ success is going to ride on how well Howard plays night in and night out in the tough Western Conference. As of right now, he has emerged as the undoubted best center in the NBA.