Dwight Howard Makes His Lakers Debut; Amar’e Stoudemire and the Knicks Are Already Breaking Down

By: 10.22.12
Dwight Howard

The Kings did many things right Sunday night, from outscoring the Lakers bench 57-18, to getting Tyreke Evans involved, to Thomas Robinson‘s electrifying, gravity-defying putback slam over Dwight Howard. It all coalesced into a win at Staples Center in front of a sold-out crowd — not that anyone noticed, there or anywhere else. Outside of California’s central valley, this game won’t be remembered for the Kings’ 99-92 win after watching Kobe Bryant‘s fadeaway J from the corner (death, taxes, Shawn Kemp owning every defender from the ’90s and Kobe’s fadeaway for the win are all you can count on in this life) bounce off before garbage buckets were tacked on for the final score. This will be remembered not because L.A. moved to 0-6 this preseason but because the dream starting five played together for the first time and looked damn good. Quick impressions: Who in the West has the front line to stop the high-low passing from Pau Gasol to Howard this season? Naturally it didn’t work every time, but seeing it in action was like seeing that movie you had high expectations for that completely lived up to it. It will be devastating more often than it isn’t, with examples for the defense being his first points (oop from Gasol) and the ease of his oops from Steve Nash. As a possible stopper, Golden State comes to mind with Bogut and Lee, and sure, possibly the Clippers. But after that? The Mavs run their whole offense through Dirk Nowitzki at the free throw line, because he’s 7-feet tall and can initiate the pass or shoot in a multiple of ways. Same too, if more limited in the shooting way, is Gasol (14 points, eight boards, five dimes), who can catch the pass, then read Kobe or Nash as they cut hard around him and try to rub off their defenders for easy back-cut hoops. Or, just a simple dump down to Howard. Even if he’s off the block it seems the Lakers have an answer because … Howard (19 points, 12 boards, four blocks) has a lefty baby hook? Howard has a lefty baby hook! DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, six boards) went hard at Howard like you knew he would from the start and pushed Howard in a very good impression of how the regular season will go. His post D isn’t eons behind his rebounding like some might think, but it was no match when Howard unveiled his baby hook come third quarter, running from right to left across the lane about halfway up. L.A. also must figure out that bench situation. Jordan Hill will help when he returns but otherwise, say goodbye to productivity once the first unit departs (as ESPN LA’s Dave McMenamin wrote, L.A. shot 60 percent and had dimes on 15 of 20 hoops in the first half with their starting five getting most the minutes). And then finally, who takes the last shot? Kobe, of course. He got the final introduction to the game for L.A., and the final chance to win it. This team can kill through myriad means, but there is still just one endgame scenario: Kobe. … Read more about New York’s bad, but predictable, news …

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