Answer: Free throws and media relations. Question: What are two things Dwight Howard is awful at?
Two of Howard's greatest flaws were on full display during and after the Houston Rockets' overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors. Asked about his free-throw struggles, Howard, who went 4-of-12 from the foul line, declined to address the issue.
"I don’t want to talk about it," Howard said, per the Houston Chronicle's Jenny Dial Creech. “So much has been talked about free throws, just let it go. We talk about it so much, I think about it at the line. I don’t want to think about it. I want to shoot."
In all fairness, Dwight, I think you mean "shoot well." Because you have been shooting free throws—tons of them, actually. You're just not making them.
On the season, Howard is converting only 47.1 percent of his free-throw attempts. If his current mark stands, it will be a new career low for the big man, who hasn't hit more than 50 percent of his freebies since 2010-11.
Recognizing that Howard still isn't making his foul shots, teams have employed Hack-a-Howard early and often. The Los Angeles Lakers sent him to the line 12 times in the fourth quarter alone in their victory over the Rockets; Howard made just five of those attempts and finished 5-of-16 from the line for the game.
Here's a look at how Howard is currently faring at the line by quarter:
|Howard's FT% By Quarter|
That 41.4 percent mark in the fourth quarter is killer. By missing so many of his free throws down the stretch, Howard is just begging to be fouled. And when he is sent to the line, he says he's thinking too much.
"I get in the game and I think so much that I tend to miss," Howard said, via Creech. "The best thing to do is to let it go. If I make it, I make it. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world."
Constant scrutiny cannot be helping his foul-line jitters. He's never been an assured free-throw shooter, but criticism has been taken to new heights since his percentages have entered a decline.
All Howard and the Rockets can do is power through and hope for the best. Houston cannot take him off the floor late in games because of how valuable he is defensively. The Rockets and him will just have to ride this out together.
"That’s what I do in practice," Howard said of hitting his free throws, per Creech. "I shoot in practice and I don't miss because I am not thinking about it."
Try not to think about all those misses, Dwight. Or all those botched opportunities. Persevere. Power through. Shoot with your eyes closed.
From your own words, just "let it go."
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