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If the game is on the line, Thunder might turn to 'Hack-a-Howard'

Dwight Howard's porous free-throw shooting has led to the Lakers losing two games in the last week.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 6, 2012

/articleid/3735285/1/pictures/1901932">Photo - Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard shoots a free throw in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. The Spurs won 84-82. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard shoots a free throw in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. The Spurs won 84-82. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

And from what Poteet has seen of Howard, the outcome is likely to be a disaster.

“If you watch poor free-throw shooters like Shaq was or Howard is, there's no rhyme or reason to how they're going to shoot the ball,” Poteet said. “You take somebody like Kevin Durant who's a great free-throw shooter. If you watch him, he's going to do things the same every single time.”

That gets at the heart of his dissertation — the paradox of free throws. What makes them looks so easy is what makes them so hard.

Players must focus, Poteet says, on the process and not the outcome.

“The real key is coming up with a fundamental way of approaching free-throw shooting,” he said.

Then, dribble, set, shoot, repeat.

“I don't think those guys have ever done that.”

Then again, maybe Howard and Co. aren't motivated to find a free-throw fix. It's never kept Superman from being an All-Star or getting a rich contract.

(But Dwight, in the event you wanted to do something about your free-throw shooting, Coach Poteet lives in Bethany, which is only about 15 minutes from the hotel where you're staying in downtown Oklahoma City.)

Free-throw woes might not hurt Howard in his next contract negotiations, but it could hurt the Lakers on Friday night.

Even though Howard went 17 for 20 from the line in OKC a couple seasons ago — “He always seems to make his free throws when we play him,” Durant said — the Thunder shouldn't hesitate to grab him and foul him and send him to the line.

“It's all within the rules,” Brooks said.

At this point, it's way more than legal.

It's solid strategy.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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