Dwight Howard plans to play for USA Basketball

Dwight Howard RocketsDwight Howard is returning to USA Basketball this summer after a six year absence, Yahoo! Sports reports.

Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski says Howard will be part of the pool of available players for the World Cup of Basketball in Spain this summer. Joining USA Basketball now could put Howard in line to be a part of the Olympic team for the 2016 Games in Brazil.

Howard was a part of Team USA for the Summer Games in 2008 at Beijing and helped the country win a gold medal. Woj believes that playing for Team USA and helping the country win a gold medal could help Howard’s image, which has taken major hits over his waffling the past few years. We completely agree. Howard is the best center in the league and should provide a boost for the country in international competition.

Dwight Howard makes 3-pointer and his teammates loved it (Video)

Dwight Howard actually attempted a 3-pointer on Friday night and made it, and his Houston Rockets teammates celebrated accordingly.

Howard’s 3-pointer — which was just the third of his career — came with the shot clock about to expire in the second quarter of the Rockets-Golden State Warriors game. No Warriors actually bothered to guard Howard since he’s not an outside shooter, and the big man burned them!

Dwight is now 3-for-42 (7 percent) on threes in his career. His teammates knew it was a rare feat and loved it:


Video via Beyond the Buzzer

Houston Rockets did a Mortal Kombat skit pregame (Video)

Dwight Howard Mortal KombatThink Dwight Howard isn’t enjoying his new team in Houston? The Rockets center did a “Mortal Kombat” skit during introductions prior to the Rockets’ game against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Howard mimicked the moves of “Scorpion” from the video game, throwing his rope at Aaron Brooks and reeling in the guard. Howard then delivered the “finish him” uppercut to perfection.

The skit was funny, but I’m not going to say it’s an excuse to fall in love with Howard again. However, it is a great sign that Howard really went to an environment where he could be a leader, be himself, and really have fun. Could you see him doing anything like that when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers? No way.

Dwight Howard really is money from the free throw line in warmups (Video)

Dwight-Howard-RocketdsHouston Rockets center Dwight Howard is shooting just 54% from the free throw line this year, which is lower than his career mark of 58%. When discussing his free throw woes, Howard has always insisted that the problems are strictly between his ears. In fact, various reports have indicated that Howard will hit as many as 90% of his free throws during a typical practice day.

Now, we have proof that he’s not lying. For those of you who are counting at home, the video above that The Starters passed along shows Howard draining 18 of 20 free throw attempts in warmups before a recent home game. He even hit 10-straight at one point.

With Shaquille O’Neal, it was obvious his problems at the charity stripe were a mechanical issue. The way Shaq leaned over the free throw line and snapped the ball at the rim was always uncomfortable to watch. With Howard, it’s all mental. If he could simply stop worrying so much, it would make him that much more dangerous.

H/T Deadspin

Dwight Howard throws ball at heckling fan; Vince Carter calls him a ‘crybaby’ (Video)

Dwight-Howard-RocketdsDwight Howard allowed an opposing fan to get under his skin on Wednesday night, and it may have contributed to the Houston Rockets’ loss against the Dallas Mavericks. Howard was fouled by Jose Calderon with just under three minutes remaining in the game. The ball wound up back in Dwight’s hands, and a Mavericks fan who was sitting courtside appeared to yell something at him. Howard then turned around and tossed the ball in the fan’s direction.

It was a gentle toss, but throwing the ball into the stands is an automatic technical foul. The stunt accomplished nothing aside from Howard having the ball swatted back at him by the fan, who didn’t seem sorry. The Rockets were leading 116-111 at the time of the technical. They went on to lose 123-120.

After the game, Dallas swingman Vince Carter revealed that he called Howard a “crybaby” in the second quarter when Howard was complaining to an official.

“(He complains to officials) all the time,” Carter said, via ESPNDallas.com. “He always talks about how I’m a crybaby. I was like, ‘Yo, you’re the biggest crybaby I know.’ And then later, he’s like, ‘Yo, why’d you say that to me?’ But I know Dwight. It’s all good, but he is [a crybaby].

“I mean, he takes a lot of punishment, but I’m like, ‘Yo, c’mon Dwight, c’mon. You elbowed, you’re sitting in the paint the entire time. What are you whining about?’ He told me to stop crying. I was like, ‘What? Are you serious?’”

Howard finished the game with a season-high 33 points, but Houston failed to pick up its fourth-straight win. Considering the Mavericks were one of the teams Howard flirted with during free agency (remember Mark Cuban’s take on the subject?), he should expect to hear it from the fans in Dallas. He has to learn to tune that stuff out completely.

Video via SLAM Online

Dwight Howard admits free throw struggles are a mental problem

Dwight-Howard-RocketdsThrough 10 games, Dwight Howard appears to be a nice fit with the 6-4 Houston Rockets. However, he is still the same old Dwight when it comes to shooting free throws.

Howard, a career 58% free throw shooter, has hit just 49% of his free throws this season. For years we have heard about how Howard can be seen draining free throw after free throw on any given day during practice. He supposedly makes nearly 90% when it doesn’t count, so the problem is clearly between Howard’s ears.

“In practice, I don’t think about what I do when I’m at the free-throw line and I make them,” he said recently, via CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger. “In the game, I’m thinking so much that when I start missing, I start thinking about missing again — or if I miss, what people are going to say.”

Last year, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni criticized the Orlando Magic for using the hack-a-Dwight strategy toward the end of a game. Howard ended up hitting 16-of-20 free throws in that game, so the plan backfired. Earlier this season, D’Antoni decided to give hack-a-Dwight a try for himself. Only this time it worked, with Howard making going just 5-for-16 from the charity stripe and the Lakers winning 99-98.

“Against the Lakers, I was just over-thinking and anxious,” Howard admitted. “I always thought of it as like being in love. If you grasp at sand and you hold it too tight, you tend to lose a lot of the sand. But if you hold it just right, then you never lose it. It’s just like a free throw. If you’re too uptight, you’re gonna miss. If you’re too loose, you’re still gonna miss. You’ve got to be just right.”

What a romantic metaphor. If only Howard could employ that strategy on a nightly basis. If mechanics were the issue, there would be an easier fix. The fact that Howard’s free throw struggles are a mental issue that has been ongoing for nearly 10 years should give Rockets fans zero confidence.

H/T Black Sports Online

Dwight Howard rejected by Quincy Acy at rim (Video)

Dwight Howard Quincy AcyDwight Howard had another one of those moments that his haters will love.

Late in the third quarter of the Houston Rockets-Toronto Raptors game on Monday, Howard took an entry pass from James Harden and spun around Tyler Hansbrough in the low post. Dwight then went up for a reverse dunk, but Quincy Acy met him at the rim and rejected him.

Houston still beat Toronto 108-104 in double-overtime, and Dwight finished with 18 points, 24 rebounds and five blocks, so he gets the last laugh. But you know folks are going to love that block by Acy.

Via Matt Moore