Los Angeles Lakers
Flatbush Avenue, Kings County
BROOKLYN NETS - May Dwight Howard's Visit To Flatbush Avenue Be a Fleeting One. Brooklyn Already Has An All-Star Center. His Name Is Brook Lopez.
"We're happy with Brook, and the team we have now..." - Deron Williams
The Nets and Lakers last met just prior to Thanksgiving. The Nets under former coach Avery Johnson visited Los Angeles while in the midst a five game winning streak and beginning the season with a 6-2 record. But Kobe Bryant dropped twenty five points on the visiting Brooks, and Dwight Howard dominated the boards with fifteen rebounds en route to a 95-90 Lakers victory. Dwight Howard also scored twenty three points and blocked four shots in forty one minutes.
By comparison, Brook Lopez played thirty seven minutes that game. He also scored twenty three points, which led the Nets, but only pulled down seven rebounds, and blocked no shots. In that game, Pau Gasol pulled down eleven boards, and combined with Howard to account for twenty six of the Lakers forty three rebounds. Metta World Peace was next in for L.A. with eight rebounds. As mentioned, Lopez had seven boards for the Nets. Then Reggie Evans pulled down a team high eleven boards, and Kris Humphries had another ten. The Nets out-rebounded the Lakers for the game by a 46-43 margin. It can be argued that perhaps the Lakers were at their optimal rebounding capabilities that night. They have roster and D'Antoni(!) issues (among others), and certainly lack another body coming off the bench who would give them another ten board night. Earl Clark? Jordan Hill? While the Nets, it can be argued, still had Andray Blatch in reserve. Andray saw limited minutes in L.A. So on a night when Dwight Howard was at his best and Gasol ended in double digits as well, the Nets still had that covered.
Now, the Lakers (22-26) must come to Brooklyn as a sub .500 team, and play in Barclays Center for the first time, where the Nets (28-19) are 18-8 at home. Dwight Howard in all likelihood will not play. He missed the last two games compromised by his ailing right shoulder. Despite this recent setback, he has actually played in three more games than Lopez this season. But in his first season after back surgery, although playing relatively well, Dwight is not playing up to his accustomed standards. He is averaging 16.5 points per game. That marks his lowest average as a center, and his lowest average since his second season in the league when he played power forward. His current 11.9 rebounds per game are similarly his lowest mark as an NBA center, in addition to being his lowest mark since he averaged 10.0 boards per game playing power forward as a rookie.
Today, the Nets play for P.J. Carlesimo. And in his fifth season in the league, Brook Lopez is headed to his first All-Star game; as is Dwight Howard. At current, Lopez is the league's highest scoring center. His 18.7 points per game top DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Bosh, Al Jefferson, and in fifth place, Dwight Howard. Brook has maintained his seven rebounds per game average, and is also averaging 2.2 blocks per game. After playing just five games last season and suffering a minor setback earlier this season, his overall minutes are down. If Lopez was playing his usual thirty three +/- minutes per game, as he averaged over his first three years (Howard is averaging almost thirty five minutes per game), he in all likelihood would be averaging over twenty points this season. In the Nets last four games, Lopez scored twenty or more points against Chicago, Miami, and Houston. And of course, it never hurts to mention Dwight Howard is a 49% free throw shooter. At least Brook Lopez is 73% from the line.
Dwight Howard had his chance at facilitating a trade to Brooklyn and playing with Deron Williams. But not only did he blow it, that time is also passed. The book on Dwight Howard, in my view, is closed. Let him come to Flatbush and either participate on the Barclays Center hearing-bone court, or let him sit nicely dressed on the sideline spectating. In either scenario, when the game is done let him leave, and take the never ending scuttlebutt of Dwight Howard to Brooklyn with him. We have no need for him here. Last time I checked, Brook Lopez was doing just fine. It's just like Deron Williams said......., and Brooklyn is happy with him too.