Following the narrow Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night, Dwight Howard talked about some of the critical moments at the end of the game and his latest mental approach to free throws.
First, Howard described how he initially thought the referee had gestured a personal foul on him—which would have fouled him out. Even with Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies holding one of Howard’s arms, Howard still managed to bring down an important defensive rebound with his one free hand.
Only, the referees did not give Howard credit for the rebound and called a foul prior to the display of strength and concentration. Initially, Howard thought the referee said the ball was staying on that end of the floor, meaning free throws for Randolph. However, ultimately, Howard was awarded two free throws on a loose ball foul—meaning no rebound for Howard.
Perhaps even more frightening for Laker fans, Howard walked 90 feet and attempted two free throws with the Lakers only leading by one. The first free throw missed, but Howard gathered himself and knocked the second one down.
What was he thinking about when he stepped up to the line?
“Nothing,” Howard responded when Triple Threat posed the question on Friday night. “When you think so much at the line, you tend to miss it. That’s what has happened to me for the most part of the season. I’ve had 20 different coaches try to tell me how to shoot free throws. And when you get up there, you have all 20 thoughts in your head, and it’ll just mess you up. Just shoot the ball. That’s the biggest thing.”
Earlier, Howard discussed gaining confidence in shooting free throws by eliminating the fear of missing. After missing his first free throw, Howard scored the second. Recovering to make the second free throw after missing the first one was a positive message that early failures can be overcome by moving forward and focusing on basics.
That lesson is one the Lakers team is hoping it can personify for the remainder of the season and into the post season.