Culture of Hoops

Dwight Howard holds his tongue after Game 4

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Baller Mind Frame’s No Layups brings you the hottest NBA stories on the web mixed with personal opinion from our very own Aaron Lanton

On some level Dwight Howard understands that Houston is the youngest of all the teams in the playoffs. That it’s going to take time for this team to grow up. That maybe the Rockets simply aren’t ready this year.

It doesn’t mean he has to accept it, however. And as this series has gone on, he’s had fight back the frustration that’s boiling inside him as he watches the late-game turnovers, lack of commitment to defense and inconsistency in the Rockets’ style of play on offense.

“We don’t have time. Time is not on our side,” Howard said after the loss. “We have to really value each possession. I’ve been saying that since day one.” …

Howard is doing his best to stifle that frustration. He took his time getting dressed after the game to collect his thoughts before sharing them publicly. He popped a stick of gum into his mouth as if to remind himself to hold his tongue. Negativity isn’t what his teammates need right now. But they do need to find a sense of urgency or this is going to be over quickly.

“They don’t understand it,” Howard said, when asked if his teammates understand all that’s at stake here. “But at the same time, that’s why it takes [veteran] guys like Francisco [Garcia], Josh Powell, myself to let them know that nothing is promised.

“There’s been guys that have been in the league for 15 years and didn’t get a ring. It took Dirk [Nowitzki] to his 13th or 14th year to get a ring. So nothing’s promised. You can’t take any moment, any series, any team, any minute on the court for granted. You’ve got to go at it. That’s the mindset. You’ve got to go at it and stay focused. We got to keep believing.” ESPN

Watching this game was somewhat heartbreaking for the Rockets. They were defeated because of late game turnovers by their careless guards and giving up inexplicable wide open three-point attempts. The last turnover by Patrick Beverley was particularly crazy because it was a dumb turnover, but he was also fouled by Wesley Matthews who clipped Beverley’s legs to ensure he got possession of the ball.

Meanwhile, Howard played a great game and was the force they kept the Rockets close with several vintage moments in the clutch. People were piling onto Dwight before the game and that won’t stop now. It’s not fair to give him so much blame when the team keeps giving up wide open threes. The narrative will be how much Howard stinks and does not deserve to be called a great player anymore.

The series is not over but the Rockets’ bad habits are not going to suddenly go away. The team desperately needs a real point guard more than another scoring option like Carmelo Anthony. Hopefully they will address this gaping hole during the offseason. – AL

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