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Rant My Life: Dwight Howard Needs to Fix His Free Throw Struggles

Expectations are high for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2012-13 season after acquiring Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic and Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns to play alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The Lakers opened their season up on Tuesday against a Dallas Mavericks team that was playing without star forward Dirk Nowitzki and even though it seemed like they should have no troubles–they went on to lose the game 99-91.

While Howard’s 19 points and 10 rebounds were decent considering he’s coming off back surgery this offseason and may not be as healthy as he would like to be, the argument can be made this game would have turned out differently for Los Angeles if he performed better from the free throw line.

For a player as talented as Howard, there’s no excuse for him to finish 3 of 14 from the free-throw line like he did against the Mavericks on Tuesday. Free throws have been a weakness for Howard his entire career and the only time he shot better than 60 percent from the line came during his rookie year back in 2004-05.

The Lakers took a big gamble this offseason when they acquired Howard and the last thing they need to deal with is this being a problem over the course of the season. Back in the day, opponents had no problem with the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy on Shaquille O’Neal in which they felt confident fouling him knowing he would struggle at the free throw line and teams certainly wouldn’t object to a similar strategy on Howard if he struggles from the line throughout the regular season.

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