The Secret Reasons for Dwight Howard’s Second-Half Turnaround

The second half of the NBA season has brought a far more dominant version of Dwight Howard. Several factors have had an impact on his return to form.

The end result of it all: The Los Angeles Lakers are winning again.

Statistically, nothing has changed. The Lake Show is producing at the same rate both offensively and defensively, but has seen a significant improvement in its late-game execution. The Lakers have raised the bar in the final stages of contests. That has given them an opportunity to bounce back and close out games, despite facing some big fourth-quarter deficits.

Kobe Bryant has been nothing short of superb in the clutch. He’s orchestrated some masterful scoring opportunities to close out contests. His magnificent outbursts have almost completely overshadowed Dwight Howard.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year has turned a porous Laker defense into one of the league’s best in crunch time. He is making his rotations much more quickly and has become a huge impediment for opposing offenses.

In the second half of the season, Howard has done a better job of picking up ball-handlers coming down the lane and intimidating them enough to force them into passing the ball.

Howard has also been more mindful of staying on the ground when perimeter players drive the ball to the hoop. The Laker center is providing support by helping out his beaten teammates and then recovering back to his man.

On the rare occasions that teams have tested Howard, he’s either changed shots or erased them outright.

The big man has looked healthier and, dare I say, happier in the process. And he can thank Bryant for it.

It would be unfair to say that Howard wasn’t enthused about his and the team’s success earlier in the season. But in the same breath, it seems clear that he wants it more now.

The temperamental big man shared...

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