ATLANTA – The Lakers believed Dwight Howard finally closed the chapter surrounding his soap opera with Orlando after delivering a dominating performance against his former team.
But the game also reopened a debate on the merits surrounding “Hack a Dwight,” a strategy that involved intentionally fouling Howard and sending him to the free throw line. Despite averaging a 47.8 percent clip this season, Howard surprisingly went 25 of 39 from the foul line and finished the fourth quarter making 10 of his final 12 foul shots. Still, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni maintained for the second consecutive game that he didn’t care for the strategy.
“We’re in the entertainment business,” D’Antoni said. “That’s not entertaining for anybody.”
It certainly wasn’t entertaining for D’Antoni when he coached the Phoenix Suns and saw Spurs coach Gregg Popovich adopt the strategy with success against Shaquille O’Neal in the 2008 NBA playoffs.
“Shaq would try to run through people,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “That’s kind of different. He punished the guy. I felt sorry for the guy who had to go give the foul because he’d try to hunt him down and kill him.”
Still, D’Antoni doesn’t fault coaches for using it since it’s within the confines of the NBA rulebook. He just believes the NBA should change its rulebook.
“If I had nine shooters, I’d vote for it,” D’Antoni said. “If I didn’t have nine shooters, I wouldn’t vote for it. That’s how we works as coaches.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org