Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Kevin Garnett #5 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 113-99 after paying homage to the late Dr. Buss.
The Lakers paid tribute to longtime owner Dr. Jerry Buss prior to the game on the big screen, and then, Kobe Bryant grabbed a microphone and said some words that pumped up everyone in the stadium and at home.
However, the tribute to the “greatest owner in sports,” as Bryant referred to the late Dr. Buss, did not end there.
On the Lakers’ first defensive possession, Dwight Howard dived to the floor, exerting more effort in one play than he seemingly had all season long. Lakers fans have not been upset with Howard’s play as much as they have been disappointed with his perceived bad attitude and lack of effort.
Perhaps the pregame tribute to Dr. Buss and the past couple days of public outpouring across Laker Land helped the Lakers’ newest big man understand that the fans needed a win against Boston in the worst way.
“We were inspired tonight with the things that have happened the last couple days,” Howard said after the game.
When the city, the organization and the fans needed a win against the Celtics, Howard finally delivered.
With Thursday’s trade deadline looming, the Lakers had repeatedly stated that they were not interested in trading away Howard. However, if he had not performed against the Celtics in the first game after Dr. Buss’s passing, Los Angeles and the Lakers nation may have never forgiven him.
Howard came out Wednesday night with the right kind of energy.
He started the game with 12 points and six rebounds on 5-6 shooting and 2-2 from the free-throw line in the first quarter. Howard looked good; consequently, the Los Angeles Lakers looked great.
He would ultimately finish with 12 rebounds -- including seven offensive rebounds -- and 24 points on an efficient 10-13 from the field.
By no means was Howard the only Laker to have a good night, as Los Angeles embarrassed Boston and led by as many as 22 points.
Bryant had another all-around game with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Earl Clark had a double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. Steve Nash only missed one shot on his way to 16 points and seven assists -- moving him past Earvin “Magic” Johnson on the all-time assists list.
In the end, the Lakers finished with seven players in double figures. The stars performed, the Lakers won as a team and they blew-out the Boston Celtics.
Yup, that is exactly how Dr. Buss would have wanted to go out.