Howard hitting free throws at a higher rate
DEC 30, 2012 11:30a ET
If the center has a major flaw to his game, it's at the line, where he's a career 58.4% shooter. Earlier in the season, Howard's percentage had dipped to 48% as teams like the Orlando Magic successfully beat the Lakers, sending Howard to the line intentionally in volume.
In November, Howard shot only 45.1 percent (60-133) from the line. He improved upon that dramatically in December at 56.7 percent (77-136). Over the team's past 10 games, Howard hit 61.2 percent from the line (52-85).
"He was effective. You know, he made his free throws," said Coach Terry Stotts on Friday after the Lakers had beaten the Portland Trail Blazers. "We didn't foul him hard enough so he had and-ones and he was very effective."
The Blazers tried to intentionally foul Howard in the first half but he knocked down four in a row.
"His presence on the defensive end is invaluable and we have to have it," said D'Antoni. "He was good on the offensive end also, hitting foul shots when they were fouling him, that's huge."
Howard has put a lot of work into improving his free-throw shooting. The time off after surgery didn't help, along with the fatigue he still feels in his back throughout games. One recent adjustment has helped; Howard has taken a step back off the line, reminiscent of former Lakers guard Nick Van Exel.
Through the years, Howard has met with numerous shooting coaches, including free-throw experts Tim "The Target" Sullivan and Ed Palubinskas.
Sullivan has broken down the art of free-throw shooting into basic physics (vectors, standard deviation, the quadratic equation, etc.).
"He really can shoot," said Sullivan of Howard. "It's not reported enough."
Sullivan and Howard spent some time together in 2011 at the Norman Howard School working on fundamentals. A clip without audio can be seen on YouTube.
As the Lakers round into form with the returns of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol from injury, Howard's improved form might help the Lakers continue to win at a high rate, taking six of their last seven.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +