After several years of bouncing around the league, Dwight Howard is one win away from getting back to the NBA Finals for the first time in 11 years. He told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that the Lakers realize it won’t be easy to get rid of the Nuggets, who overcame a pair of 3-1 deficits on their way to the Western Conference Finals.
“They’re going to give us their best shot. They’re not going to let up,” Howard said. “They’re a really good team, very well coached. We understand that. We’re one step closer to our dream, so we’re not going to take our foot off the gas. I think we’re going to bring more intensity than we brought before. We have a well-experienced group of guys on our team, even coaches. We understand how important this series is and this game is and that we should treat it like a Game 7 with our intensity and our effort and just play as hard as we can.”
It has been an incredible journey for Howard, who is on his fifth team in the past five years and had to go through a training camp tryout just to earn a roster spot. He is averaging 7.1 points and 5.2 rebounds in 11 playoff games and moved into the starting lineup for Thursday’s Game 4.
There’s more on the Lakers:
- Anthony Davis has “minor soreness” after suffering an ankle sprain, but has been cleared to play tonight, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
- Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, a former teammate of LeBron James, believes the Lakers’ star is motivating himself through a perceived slight in the MVP balloting, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. “LeBron always lifts his play in the playoffs, and I think those 16 first-place votes that he got (for MVP), he just used that,” Love said. ““He’s like, ‘I probably wouldn’t have won it. But I deserve more first place votes,’ which I believe is true.”
- Rajon Rondo‘s playoff experience has been indispensable as the Lakers navigate the postseason, James tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “He’s played at the highest level, and he’s someone that we can trust,” James said. “… When you can have guys that have been in the moments and can understand and also be able to make adjustments on the fly, and know that you can count on them down the stretch, it just makes the team and you individually feel so much more confident in the outcome. Ever since he got back from injury and we saw this playoff run, he’s been exceptional.”