Dwight Howard barely played against the small-ball Rockets in the Lakers‘ last series, but he may be in the starting lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Howard’s impact in Game 1 has coach Frank Vogel considering a change. During seven minutes in the second quarter, the veteran center had two blocks, two steals, and drew five fouls. He also boosted L.A.’s energy and physicality, Slater notes.
Howard started the second half in place of JaVale McGee and got Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to commit an important fourth foul, stifling Denver’s comeback hopes. Howard finished with 13 points in 16 minutes and was plus-14 for the game. Vogel won’t announce his Game 2 starters until the league requirement of 30 minutes before tipoff, tweets Mike Trudell of Spectrum.
“I had a chance to get there once and always promised myself if I had a chance to get back there, I’d give my teammates everything I got and lay it all out on the line,” Howard told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, referring to his loss with the Magic in 2009 in his only NBA Finals appearance.
There’s more on the Lakers:
- Vogel said LeBron James should be ready for Game 2 despite hurting his ankle Friday night, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. James rolled the ankle when he stepped on Jerami Grant‘s foot.
- Rajon Rondo put up seven points, nine assists and two steals in 22 minutes in Game 1, but the attitude he brings to the court is more important than his numbers, observes Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times. “His impact’s always measured in swag with our team,” Vogel said. “He elevates the group’s confidence every time he’s on the floor.” Rondo, who has a reputation for raising his game in the postseason, passed Michael Jordan on the career playoff assists list Friday night and is closing in on Kobe Bryant. He has been a difference maker since returning from a fractured right thumb that caused him to miss all the Lakers’ seeding games and the first-round series with Portland.
- Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report talks to several anonymous team executives about whether Anthony Davis is the best teammate James has ever had. Davis is in his prime at age 27 and has been a perfect complement to James since being acquired from the Pelicans last summer.