Dwight Howard turns back the clock for vintage performance
On Monday night in Charlotte, Dwight Howard put Father Time on hold and put on the cape one more time. The former All-Star, who was fondly nicknamed Superman back in the height of his powers in Orlando, finished the night with 25 points and 20 rebounds to help the Hornets take down the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-102.
He crashed the boards and aggressively called for touches in the paint en route to his 49th 20-20 game of his illustrious yet tumultuous career. His throwback performance was an encouraging sight for Hornets fans, but it was his uncharacteristic serviceability at the free throw line that made his big night possible.
The imposing big man went 9-14 from the charity stripe, including 6-10 in the fourth quarter. While he’s shooting a dreadful 40.3 percent from the foul line for the season, this outlier could be the sparkplug he needs to regain some confidence at the line.
Howard was acquired from the Hawks in an offseason trade, and it seemed his career was fading to obscurity. However, in a surprising turn of events, he outplayed Timberwolves superstar Karl-Anthony Towns and held the big man to 18 points and 12 rebounds.
His four blocks were reminiscent of his days as a multiple time recipient of the Defensive Player of the Year with the Magic. Although injuries have sapped the center of his elite athleticism, when healthy, he’s still capable of throwing together a stout defensive showing like the one he gave on Monday night.
Heading into the game, Charlotte had committed the fewest turnovers in the NBA this season. Their 11 first half give aways were sloppy, but they cleaned up their act in the final two quarters. The Hornets don’t have as much star power as some other teams in the league and they’ll need to continue to take care of the ball to remain in the playoff picture.
They’re nowhere close to contending for a title, but with a plethora of skilled big men to deploy against smaller teams, the Hornets should have more than their fair share of upsets during the regular season. You can count them out for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, but they’re the last team you want to face as a top seed in the playoffs.