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Monday, April 23, 2018

Mike D’Antoni on hack-a-Dwight Howard: ‘I hate it for the fans’

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is one of the worst free throws shooters in the NBA. He is shooting less than 50% from the line this season, and opponents have begun preying on his weakness.

During Tuesday night’s win over the Orlando Magic, Howard went to the free throw line an NBA record-tying 39 times. He converted 25 of those attempts, which is better than expected, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was quick to criticize Orlando’s approach after the game.

“I hate it for the fans,” D’Antoni said according to NBA.com. “They can come to practice for free and watch him shoot 40, 50 foul shots. They don’t even have to pay for the tickets. I’ll invite them all.”

If the Magic’s plan was to foul Dwight in the second half in an attempt to get back into the game, it backfired. Howard found a rhythm and converted 16 of 20 free throws in the final two quarters.

“With any player, if you get 39 cracks at it, it’s only natural for you to gain some type of rhythm,” Magic guard Arron Affalo said. “Usually the percentages kick in when you take five to 10. But when you actually make a few, you gain some confidence, and he did a good job of making them down the stretch for them.”

D’Antoni may not like hack-a-Dwight, but he has made it clear that he does not intend to bench his center late in games because of it. Howard rewarded D’Antoni’s confidence in him by shooting lights out from the line in the second half on Tuesday. The more practice he gets now, the better off he’ll be down the stretch.

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