When Dwight Howard was with the Los Angeles Lakers, the starting lineup of choice featured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.
Only one season after Howard jumped ship, the Lakers will send out a starting lineup of Kendall Marshall, Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Chris Kaman to face Howard’s Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
On the court, Wednesday night is hardly a game worth watching.
The Lakers have lost 10 of the last 12 games, and they cannot seem to get healthy. After taking a few days off due to the NBA’s All-Star break, the Lakers still have been unable to return Gasol, Bryant or Nash. Jodie Meeks, however, has recovered from an ankle injury and expects to play on Wednesday night. Also, Jordan Farmar is a game-time decision.
The Rockets, on the other hand, have won 10 of their last 12 games. Entering Wednesday night, Houston is on a seven-game winning streak and is third in the Western Conference. The Rockets are currently only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are being no one when it comes to last place in the West.
Off the court, however, the real drama involves Howard’s return. Wednesday is the first time Howard returns to LA to face the Lakers. While wearing a Lakers’ colors, Howard never seemed fully comfortable under the bright lights of the Los Angeles media.
For Wednesday’s return, Howard’s every move, every action and every free throw should draw added attention. And he will shoot plenty of free throws. The Lakers will likely put Howard on the foul line intentionally several times during Wednesday’s game.
In two games the Lakers have played against the Rockets this season, Howard has attempted 40 free throws. To put that in perspective, the entire Lakers’ team only shot 40 free throws over those same two games. Expect Howard shooting free throws often, so that should give the fans plenty of opportunities to express their feelings for the Rockets’ center.
Wednesday night may not be exciting. It may not be pretty. However, watching Howard come back to LA and face his former team and his former fans should be entertaining. After painfully watching Howard sluggishly labor through embarrassing losses in 2012-13, Laker fans will hope for one more embarrassing performance from Howard on Wednesday night.
Win or lose, though, LA does not miss Howard.