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A Humbling NBA Finals for Howard

Jun 14, 2009 – 11:40 PM
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Matt Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz %BloggerTitle%

Stan Van Gundy and Dwight HowardGame 5 was another quiet one for Magic center Dwight Howard. Eleven points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three turnovers in 39-plus minutes in his team's 99-86 elimination game defeat against L.A. on Sunday.

Rather than point their fingers at Howard, there are sure to be plenty who will instead criticize Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. They will argue that Van Gundy didn't do enough to get Howard involved in the offense.

After all, Howard took only nine shots in Game 5, which is the number of shots per game he averaged during the Finals.

Let that sink in for a minute, particularly if Howard is supposed to be the best center in the NBA. Biggest and strongest player on the court and he can only get you nine shots per game?

That doesn't sound like a Van Gundy problem. That sounds like a Howard problem.

The real issue is that Howard isn't talented enough or skilled enough to generate shots for himself. That's almost unheard of for a star player

It's one thing for Howard's low-post game to be on the raw side. What's tougher to figure is why Howard wasn't able to manufacture attempts by going to the offensive glass.

His rebounding numbers were fine for the series. Yet it's hard to remember him with a big follow-up for a dunk or a rebound in traffic that he kicked out for a big-time 3. Howard never dominated the interior in the series. And you don't need touches to do that.

At the same time, it's virtually impossible to imagine a Moses Malone or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Hakeem Olajuwon or even Patrick Ewing going so many consecutive games in a Finals series without getting shots on a consistent basis.

But that's kind of the point. Each of those guys were good enough to force the issue if need be. And if it meant they had to take a bad shot or two, so be it. But Howard isn't polished enough to get shots off, and in this series he's wasn't persistent enough on the offensive glass to get the ball that way.

Howard is getting better, but what the Lakers' defense did to him should get him to working on his game. It's one thing to struggle in your first NBA Finals. It's another to be taken out of them all together.

Latest NBA Finals Photos

    Police officers in riot gear stand guard outside Staples Center as supporters celebrate after the Los Angeles Lakers won their 15th NBA Championship, in Los Angeles June 14, 2009. The Los Angeles Lakers captured their 15th championship and first since 2002 with a 99-86 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the NBA Finals on Sunday. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Sasha Vujacic #18 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks at the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy as the Lakers celebrate in the locker room after their 99-86 win against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sasha Vujacic

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Pau Gasol (facing camera) #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with Shannon Brown #12 after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Pau Gasol;Shannon Brown

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Rafer Alston #1 of the Orlando Magic hangs his head as he stands on court against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rafer Alston

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates during the final minutes of the Lakers 99-86 win against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kobe Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: (L-R) Kobe Bryant #24 (holding daughter Gianna), Pau Gasol #16 and Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kobe Bryant;Pau Gasol;Andrew Bynum;Gianna Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Finals MVP Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers kisses his wife Vanessa as he celebrates after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Vanessa Bryant;Kobe Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Finals MVP Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates daughter Gianna after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Gianna Bryant;Kobe Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Finals MVP Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates with his daughter Gianna and wife Vanessa (R) after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Gianna Bryant;Kobe Bryant;Vanessa Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Finals MVP Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds up the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Lakers won 99-86 to win the NBA Championship against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals at Amway Arena on June 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kobe Bryant

    NBAE/Getty Images

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