Bobcats Have A Plan For Dwight Howard


By reading the white board inside the visitor’s locker room before Sunday’s game between the Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats, the Bobcats’ plan became clear. With phrases like “Be ready to foul Howard, no and-ones” and “Go at Howard’s chest” written on the board, it was plain to see that the Bobcats planned to be physical with Dwight Howard.

Although Howard was a dominate force on the defensive end, the plan did slow Howard on offense. Howard only got off four shots, missed all but one of his six free throw attempts and remained in foul trouble throughout the game, forcing him to miss over 20 minutes of action. Howard finished with nine blocks, but only managed to score five points and grab seven rebounds.

“I was frustrated,” Howard admitted. “It’s going to be tough for me on the offensive end the way they were playing, double-teaming and swarming and not letting me catch.”

Bobcats Head Coach Larry Brown was pretty happy with the way they played Howard.

“I think under the circumstances you’re not going to do a much better job on him than that.”

We just have to keep a body on him,” Bobcats reserve Center Tyson Chandler said. “We have a lot of bodies we can throw at him.”

And the Bobcats did just that, using Chandler, Theo Ratliff, and Nazr Mohammed on Howard.

Howard did a fairly god job of keeping his emotions in check. He was clearly bothered by the tactics of the Charlotte defenders. He picked up some cheap fouls that showed his frustration, but he never became too vocal about it and did not pick up a technical foul. If you’ll remember, Howard was suspended for game six of Orlando’s first round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers after throwing an elbow at Samuel Dalembert out of frustration early in game five and picked up 15 technical fouls during the regular season. Howard avoided an eruption like that on Sunday.

Brown denied that the Bobcats had a plan to rough up Howard.

“To be honest we didn’t talk about fouling him, even though my owner did.” Brown said after the game.

“You’ve got to pick your poison when you play them,” Brown told reporters. “Whether you double him or whether you try to stay at home.”

Brown did admit that Charlotte’s focus was to minimize Howard’s impact but says having so much focus on him burned them.

“I thought we focused so much on him we opened up everybody else,” Brown told the media. “We didn’t do a good job of getting out on screens and Jameer just had his way.”

The Magic have enough depth and scorers to compensate for an off night on their superstar.

“He(Howard) can run the floor and push it and when he runs as he did in the first half, he gets other guys open,” Jameer Nelson explained. “The second part is when he’s posting up and getting the ball and kicking it out for open shots, it’s not about who’s scoring the ball or necessarily even touching the ball sometimes. He gets guys open.”

There is no doubt that Howard’s presence alone gets his teammates open, which is why Head Coach Stan Van Gundy surrounds Howard with shooters and runs  4-out/1-in sets.

There will be games when Howard is going to be called upon to score, so he will have to keep his cool and avoid frustration. Rashard Lewis thinks he knows what Howard has to do.

“I think he needs to stop getting into push and shove matches with of the guys when he’s posting up,” Lewis told a group of reporters following the game. “They give him some cheap fouls and he gets frustrated.”

All Howard has to do is avoid getting himself into situations like that.

“If he can learn how to play through that (picking up cheap fouls) and not get frustrated, he should be on the court a lot more,” Lewis said.

Howard’s all-around impact in a game where he barely scored was still great.

“I think he really impacted the game, but that kid’s great,” Larry Brown said. “He doesn’t have to score. He had nine blocks, eight in the first half. He intimidates shots. He’s unselfish. He’s a pretty incredible player. You don’t hear enough about him.”

Despite having some success defending and frustrating Howard, Brown had more lofty praise for Howard.

“Again, if you read the stats correctly, he got five points and he was the most valuable player.”

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).