With Dwight Howard playing with his former team from the opposite side of the court for the first time since the trade drama, Orlando Magic coach Jacques Vaughn seems had a busy week compiling detailed notes and probably going through old practice tapes to identify the 26-year-old’s weakness. And Jacques Vaughn he’s finally hit gold with “Hack a Dwight,” by using Dwight Howard as an instrument to maximize the Orlando Magic’s production.
The Orlando Magic desperately need such minor advantages to comeback from a three-game slide and after struggling 5-10 throughout the season as the franchise enters a rebuilding phase.
After eight dealing with eight years of frustration surrounding Dwight Howard’s poor performance from the free-throw line, the Orlando Magic are looking for the first time to turn an old drawback into an advantage. Hence with the Hack a Dwight, the Orlando Magic could be deliberately putting Dwight Howard on the free-throw line to pick rebounds on his likely missed shots.
“I am a gentleman who believes in playing within the confines of the game,” stated Jacques Vaughn. “I think that falls in line with playing within the confines of the game.”
Dwight Howard is going at a career-low 47 percent scoring from the free-throw line, shooting 6-of-21 in the past two games. During the Los Angeles Lakers’ past eight losses, the difference between made and missed free throws far exceeds the point differential between winning and losing. However, the Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets tried to implement the Hack a Dwight strategy earlier in the season, but it failed to produce favorable results for both teams.
However, there no certain prediction to how the Hack a Dwight may play out for the Orlando Magic, who enter Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers 8-8, ranking 28th in the league in terms of total offense (91.13 points per game).
The Orlando Magic’s roster has drastically changed in the post-Dwight era. The six-time All-Star Dwight Howard was shipped to the Los Angeles in a high-profile four-team trade involving 12-players, for which the Orlando Magic gained Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, as well as locked first-round and second round picks.
The current Los Angeles Lakers roster only boasts five returning players from last season: Jameer Nelson, Ish Smith, Glen Davis, J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu.
Although Jacques Vaughn has been criticized for using the Hack a Dwight strategy given Orlando Magic’s former ties with the three-time NBA Defensive player of the year, the coach playfully brushed aside such concerns.
“Loopholes? That’s such a negative connotation and a loaded word,” said Jacques Vaughn. “As a coach, you have to be smart. If opportunities present themselves and you can give yourself an advantage as a team, take advantage.”