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Lakers might start Dwight Howard in Game 2 vs. Nuggets

By Tania Ganguli, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

In his return to the Lakers' rotation, Dwight Howard made the Denver Nuggets pay in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.

He scored, he played defense, and he drew the Nuggets' fouls, helping to get their key players into foul trouble and rendering them less effective.

And Howard got his head coach thinking about starting him.

"I'm considering that," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. "But I won't release our starting lineup until tomorrow night 30 minutes before the game."

Howard started two games this season, both of which came during a pre-pandemic road trip when starting center JaVale McGee was hurt. This season with the Lakers has been the first in Howard's career that he has been asked to come off the bench. Previously, he'd started in every game he'd played in his career.

Howard and McGee were little used in their series against Houston as the Rockets have a smaller, quicker lineup that necessitated the Lakers using their centers less. Howard only played 14 minutes and 39 seconds and sat out Games 2, 3 and 4.

 

The Lakers started McGee in Game 1 on Friday night, but moved to Howard in the second quarter. Vogel was impressed enough that he started Howard in the third quarter, a sign he might have confidence in Howard as a starter going forward.

Vogel's decisions in the second-round series against the Rockets, in which he started forward Markieff Morris instead of McGee toward the end, showed that the Lakers coach isn't afraid to make a change.

"You measure how quickly you want to make a move," Vogel said. "You always want to have moves to make in terms of you don't want to just start with your Plan C or D. You try Plan A first and see how that works and how that plays out, and then it's a case-by-case, game-by-game, series-by-series type of evaluation.

"I won't submit any decisions until the morning of game day. We have a postgame feeling of where we are at, how I feel about it. We'll watch the tape, measure it again the next day. Have an idea of where we are going without putting it in cement, and then sleep on that next night and wake up the next morning with a plan."

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