Dwight Howard can feel Josh Smith’s pain.
Smith soon became an instant trending topic on Twitter after Kobe Bryant buried the Atlanta forward with a one-handed dunk that perfectly captured his 34-point effort in the Lakers’ 99-98 win Sunday over the Hawks. And although Howard didn’t have a good view of the play since he was clearing the lane for Bryant’s dunk, the Lakers center reluctantly recalled falling a victim to a similar play years ago with the Orlando Magic.
“I was a rookie. It’ll never happen again, and he knows that,” Howard said. “We don’t talk about it. It’s something that happened a long time ago, and doesn’t really matter no more.”
It may not matter anymore. But it’s hard to believe Bryant doesn’t bring it up. After all, he’s the penultimate competitor and trash talker.
Doesn’t Bryant ever try to replicate such a play against him in practice?
“No, we’re on the same team,” Howard said. “And I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t try.”
Howard then smiled.
“He’s getting old,” Howard said of Bryant.
Bryant sure is at 34 years old and playing in his 17th NBA season. But that’s hardly prevented him from still playing at an elite level. Bryant’s 27.3 points per game average on 47.2 percent shooting ranks third in the NBA behind New York’s Carmelo Anthony and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (both whom average 28.6 points per game).
Bryant’s also throwing dunks in the same fashion he posterized Howard in the 2004-05 season.
“In Orlando, that was probably one of his best dunks,” Howard said. “But like I said, a play like that wouldn’t happen again. I told him that when it happened.”
What did Kobe say?
“He just laughed.”
Follow L.A. Daily news Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org