Dwight Howard nearly got himself tossed in Game 3 loss to Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard primary role in the Western Conference Finals has been to irritate Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. He’s had varying degrees of success doing so through three games, but in Denver’s 114-106 Game 3 win on Tuesday, Howard nearly took his new enforcer role too far.
Midway through the second quarter, Howard earned a technical foul for frustratingly heaving the ball in the air after a questionable call. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, his follow-up actions nearly got him thrown out of the crucial game.
With Nuggets forward Jerami Grant (26 points) at the free throw line, Howard directed an obscenity at the officials, causing ref Marc Davis to reprimand Howard.
“Hey, cut that out now! Are you serious? I’ve heard that twice now. Twice. Cut it out now!” Davis reportedly exclaimed.
Howard was given a warning, but was allowed remain in the game. However, his focus was clearly still on the whistles. Before Grant’s second free throw, Howard failed to notice that he was lined up against 6’2 Monte Morris for the rebound, while two Lakers guards, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso, were next to 6’10 Michael Porter Jr. A visibly annoyed Rondo clapped at Howard to switch with Caruso.
“Rondo is constantly shadowing Howard and is in his ear about toning down some of his antics,” Haynes writes.
Dwight Howard contributed four points and one rebound in 14 minutes, while Jokic put up 22 points (9-14 FG), 10 assists, and five rebounds. After a strong Game 1 performance (13 points, 4-5 FG, two steals, two blocks), the Lakers big man tallied a three field goals and three rebounds in Games 2 and 3 combined.
Despite the near-ejection, expect the veteran continue to continue trying to get under Jokic’s skin in Thursday’s Game 4 and throughout the series.