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Dwight Howard on Being Lakers' Defensive Anchor

At Los Angeles Lakers shootaround, Dwight Howard talked about his big block against the Hornets and said he was getting his timing back.

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Howard Talks Defense at Lakers Shootaround

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Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers has been an improved defensive force recently, and he took some time to talk to the media at Lakers' shootaround on March 8, 2013. The Lakers play the Toronto Raptors Friday night at Staples Center.

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After working on free throws, post moves, and some extra conditioning following Los Angeles Lakers’ morning shootaround, Dwight Howard addressed the Los Angeles media.

Even with the Raptors visiting Staples Center in the evening, the media was still fixated on the Lakers’ comeback against the Hornets and Howard’s defensive impact in the crucial period.

Howard took ownership of the defense in the fourth quarter in New Orleans, and he was asked about his left handed block on Robin Lopez that effectively sealed the game for the Lakers.

“I usually block a lot of shots with my left hand,” Howard said. “It’s something Bill Russell taught me. I read in one of his books [that] if a player is right-handed, you want to use your left hand to block shots instead of going across your body and trying to use your right hand to block a right-handed player’s shot. Use the left hand because it’s right there.”

Howard is a student of the game, and his history of dominating games defensively should not be a surprise given his natural size and choice of reading. When asked if he was now fully in charge of the defense, Howard initially rejected the idea but eventually acknowledged that he was the last line of defense.

“We all have to be in charge of defense,” Howard said. “It’s not just on me to make every play, but, at the same time, I’m going to be back there to erase the mistakes.”

Howard’s gradual recovery from injury has been widely documented, but he has been showing marked improvement following the All-Star break. Howard has four blocks in three out of the last five games. Also, he has at least two steals in two of the past three games.

“It is my job to be the last line of defense,” Howard said at shootaround. “I really try to erase everybody’s mistakes. And I’m getting there. My timing is getting back, and everything is coming. I just need to keep working.”

When the Lakers take the floor against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, eyes all over Staples Center will be assessing Howard’s mobility and impact on the defensive end. If the Lakers can get into the playoffs and Howard can return to the levels he regularly displayed during his time in Orlando, the Lakers may well be one of the most dangerous seventh of eighth seeds in recent memory.

Before thinking too far ahead, though, the Lakers still need to take care of the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

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