The Lakers have tried nearly every tactic in navigating the relentless pressure the Spurs have fronted Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol this playoff series.
They’ve tried force feeding it inside only to result in more turnovers. The Lakers have taken outside shots to space the floor, only for many of them to clang off the rim. They’ve repeatedly tried swinging the ball around in hopes of throwing the Spurs’ defense off balance.
With the Lakers entering Game 3 Friday of their first-round series against San Antonio nursing a 0-2 deficit, Howard has tried another strategy.
The Lakers center openly accused the Spurs, namely Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, of flopping when he was called for two offensive fouls in the Lakers’ Game 2 loss Wednesday in San Antonio.
“I got a lot of my fouls on the offensive end just posting up,” Howard said. “I thought the flopping rule was going to be put in this year. But I guess that’s up for next season.”
The NBA announced harsher penalties during the postseason for repeat offenders, including a possible suspension after the fifth transgression. The league will also levy fines to players that flop starting at $,5000 for the first flop, $10,000 for a second violation, $15,000 for a third and $30,000 for a fourth.
Such measures are slightly harsher than the penalties implemented this season. The NBA office warned a player after his first flop before following with fines of $5,000 for a second violation, $10,000 for a third, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 for a fifth transgression.
To Howard’s dismay, most of the whistles in Game 2 went toward him, including a technical foul early in the third quarter after arguing with officials. Howard then collected his fourth foul with 8:37 left in the third quarter after charging into Splitter, a sequence that kept him sidelined for the rest of the quarter. With the Lakers trailing 88-74 with 6:54 left in the game, Howard then picked up his fifth foul for getting called for an offensive charge against Duncan.
Howard finished with 16 points and four blocks, but his five turnovers and five fouls limited his effectiveness. He also allowed his emotions to get the best of him throughout the game. Yet, Howard vows he won’t change his approach even if the whistles keep blowing.
“They need me on the floor, but I can’t stop being aggressive,” Howard said. “I have to post up hard. I want the ball so I will post up and get it. It’s a battle. It’s the playoffs. You have to fight for every possession. From the beginning of the game to end, we have to show the refs and the other team how we’re going to play. Usually the refs make adjustments. But I can’t change my style of play. That will benefit the Spurs.”
So did Howard’s persistent foul trouble.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org