The Lakers hoped to see Dwight Howard’s dominance. But they mostly saw exhaustion. The Lakers hoped to see plenty of points. But they mostly saw missed free throws. The Lakers hoped to see Howard showcase his three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year credentials. But they mostly saw Howard showing frustration over the physical play.
The Lakers’ 99-91 season-opening loss Tuesday to the Dallas Mavericks may have featured Howard posting 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting and 10 rebounds. But there’s plenty that represented Superman’s Kryptonite. His 3 of 14 mark from the free-throw line. His timing as he continues to rehab from back surgery. And most importantly, his frustration.
Staples Center featured a goofy promo where Howard touted his love for surfing, staring at the stars at night and taking long walks on the beach. But nowehre did Howard appear joyful on the basketball court.
“There were some moments I was upset,” Howard said.
Howard seemed upset about many things.
He seemed with his 3 of 14 mark from the free-throw line.
“I need to stop thinking so much. I need to stop thinking, ‘I got to make these, I got to make these.’ I end up bricking it.”
Howard seemed upset that the Lakers’ starting lineup in himself, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace only played one preseason game together.
“All of us are trying to get our timing down. We havent had an opportunity to play together as much as we wanted to, but it will come with time.”
Howard seemed upset over the struggles the Lakers experienced over the revamped offense that includes elements of the Princeton system.
“You have to be in the right spots to run the offense the right way. We’ll get it. It’s just going to take time.”
Most notably, Howard seemed upset when he got into foul trouble (collecting six) and earning a flagrant one foul on Dallas forward Elton Brand as the Lakers trailed 58-53 with 7:13 left.
“I felt like I got fouled on the other end. I kind of complained for a second so I was justgetting back on defense. I’ll take my part on that. I have to get back. I can’t look at the refs and complain. I have to make sure I get back because it leaves everything open for my teammates. I got to do a better job with that.”
Howard resorted to cliches on how the Lakers are going through a “process” and reminded reporters “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” But on the court, it appeared Howard didn’t follow his own advice.
He routinely miffed on alley-oop lobs because he had poor timing. Howard committed three turnovers partly out of his unfamiliarity with teammates. His calling card on defense mostly stayed absent as the Lakers struggled against Dallas despite lacking Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman.
“His reaction at times is still a little off,” Lakers Coach Mike Brown said of Howard. “He’s a half count late a lot of times defensively. He’s still getting a feel for what we’re trying to do offensively, just like everybody else, but I thought defensively and rebounding wise his timing was off a little bit.”
Still, Howard stressed to make very little of the Lakers’ game or himself.
“It’ll be fine,” Howard said. “It’s one game. We got a lot more games to play and we have to stay focused and positive.”
Howard lacked that in the season opener.
Kobe Bryant say there’s “85%” chance he’ll play in season opener
Lakers embark on one of the most-awaited seasons in franchise history
LAKERS NOTEBOOK: Cuban acts unimpressed with Lakers’ ‘super team’ moves
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter.