The Emergence of Dwight Howard as Witnessed on Twitter
This win may have been a turning point in the Lakers season. This night may be remembered as the night that Dwight Howard challenged Kobe Bryant’s monopoly on the Lakers’ leadership, and the night that Kobe accepted Dwight as a co-leader of the team.
The Lakers, who had lost their previous two games, fell behind early to the Hornets, and something we haven’t witnessed before happened – Dwight Howard got visibly upset with Kobe Bryant.
Although I was watching the game, the two Hornets announcers were busy interviewing Commissioner David Stern. They totally missed it.
But some of the reporters that I follow on Twitter saw it, and tweeted about it. In fact, although the drama was most intense in the first quarter, the story played out right through the post-game interviews.
Many thanks to Kevin Ding (@KevinDing) and Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) for their great coverage tonight, and thanks also to The Kamenetzky Brothers (@KamBrothers), who were apparently watching on TV, but whose observations about the Lakers defense on camera provide context for the drama that was unfolding away from the camera.
Below is an abridged version of my twitter feed tonight:
“Dwight in disbelief at Kobe’s lack of defensive rotation on Robin Lopez dunk. NO 12, LA 7.” – @KevinDing, 1Q
“Dwight yelled at Kobe for not rotating to Robin Lopez. Kobe yelled back at Dwight, pointing toward the other end of the court.” – @KevinDing, 1Q
“Now in the timeout huddle, Dwight is standing up and pointing a finger in the face of a seated Kobe.” – @Kevin Ding, 1Q
“I’m falling behind the game b/c I keep rewinding to watch the defensive breakdowns for LA. Kobe is literally not moving on many plays. BK” – @KamBrothers, 1Q
“Mike D’Antoni said Kobe was ‘Up and Down’ last night. The down part involves mostly lack of defensive rotations, as Howard has mentioned.” – @LakersReporter, 1Q
“Dwight did go and slap Kobe’s hand after Kobe made a free throw. Kobe’s D improved after timeout. NO 23 LA 20 after 1Q.” – @Kevin Ding, 1Q
“Kobe went to sit next to Dwight at the end of the bench. At the start of this timeout, Kobe reached out a hand to help pull Dwight to his feet.” – @Kevin Ding, 2nd quarter
“Steve Nash just came out to join the team on the bench. He makes everything better.” – @Kevin Ding, 2Q
“Since a horrible first quarter, the Lakers have been more attentive defensively. Better pressure. Hornets now below 40%. LAL now +6. BK.” – @KamBrothers, 3Q
“Strong LAL D, led by Howard and better rotations, have held NOH scoreless so far, with 8:30 left in the 3rd.” – @LakersReporter, 3Q
“Nash has been very vocal on the bench, in support of Dwight’s 3Q domination…. LA 72 NO 62” – @Kevin Ding, 3Q
“Lakers have made peace and lead Hornets, 77-64, entering 4Q.” – @KevinDing, 4Q
“D’Antoni pleased w/the D rotations to help Howard in the 2nd half; LAL want him to contest every shot, & thus need to have his back” – @LakersReporter, post-game
“D’Antoni said it takes time for players to learn how to react quickly with Howard, who is everywhere on D. But it’s coming.” – @LakersReporter, post-game
“Jamison on remembering to cover Howard’s man: ‘It’s difficult … sometimes I don’t think he could be back there (but he is).’” – @LakersReporter, post-game
“What Jamison is getting at: Howard covers so much ground so quickly that teammates need a bit to get used to it. Unique in NBA.” – @LakersReporter, post-game
“NOH had 10 off. rebounds in the 1st half. LAL shut that down in the 2nd (only 2), players recovering to help as Howard contested everything.” – @LakersReporter
“Dwight said about Kobe that it’s good ‘when you can say whatever you have to say and the other person doesn’t take it as a personal attack.” – @KevinDing, post-game
It’s possible that I’m making too much of this, but it really does feel like a turning point to me, both on the court and in the locker room.