Sports Out West

Lakers news: Phil Jackson says Dwight Howard’s strengths ‘eliminated’

Phil Jackson Keith Allison

Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach and 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson has separated himself from the team from a professional standpoint, but he, like the rest of the basketball-watching public, has watched the 25-29 team struggle. 

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Jack McCallum, Jackson said the issues that plague Los Angeles are as simple as looking at the under-utilization of Dwight Howard

“They just don’t put the ball in the post,” Jackson said. “They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe [Bryant] will go in there. But Dwight [Howard] just doesn’t get any touches. They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”

About Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard — they’ve had their share of differences this season, and Mike D’Antoni’s system of utilizing perimeter players as opposed to pounding the ball inside to two 7-footers has caused Howard to be ineffective at times. Jackson masterfully utilized Shaquille O’Neal’s strengths to create opportunities for perimeter players like Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry. Those players made names for themselves by playing off the sport’s biggest name. 

So why then, does Howard look lost with these Lakers? There’s the health issue for one — he’s still not fully recovered from a back injury that sidelined him at the end of last season and a torn labrum in his right shoulder that won’t heal fully until treated in the offseason. 

 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.