Welcome to Los Angeles, Dwight Howard.
You were a star in Los Angeles before you even got traded here. The city loves big men, and now, you’re taking the place of Andrew Bynum. Bynum may not have consistently put forward the effort or production Laker fans yearned for, but one thing we appreciated was Andrew’s ability to make his free throws.
On opening night, Laker fans felt anxiety and pain they haven’t felt in nearly a decade.
Every time the Lakers thought they had an easy bucket, Howard got fouled and went to the free throw line. Every time this happened, Laker fans chewed their hats, cursed the air, and felt their hearts murmur.
Dwight Howard shot an embarrassing 3-14 from the charity stripe in his Laker regular season debut.
Lakers fans knew the feeling of watching a sure 2 points turn into an empty trip down the floor from years with Shaq. A straight unguarded shot 15 feet from the basket that has been practiced ad nauseam by every player in every practice cost the Lakers their season opener at home.
Dwight wasn’t alone in his free throw folly.
Jordan Hill wasn’t far behind with a 1-6 performance. With those two combining for 16 missed free throws, it was easy to see where the Lakers lost this game. A 10 point loss on opening night after the Lakers combined to miss 19 free throws as a team.
To go along with this rather ugly season opener, Kobe Bryant only had 14 field goal attempts and made 11 of them for 22 points. Perhaps the most mind boggling free throw stat of the night was that the Black Mamba didn’t earn a single trip to the free throw line in 35 minutes.
If Kobe’s lack of calls didn’t make Laker fans scratch their heads and wonder what was happening on opening night, Steve Nash’s trips to the line certainly did. The career 90.4% free throw shooter went to the line 4 times on Wednesday night and only hit the bottom of the net once.
Something tells me the Steve Nash isn’t going to shoot 25% from the line this year, and Kobe will hear the whistle as this season progresses. However, Dwight Howard is a sub 60% free throw shooter for his career, so expect Dwight to keep Laker fans remembering Shaq all season long.
There’s a lesson in here: if he calls himself Superman, he has to make free throws.