At times during the past couple of seasons, Dwight Howard has been a punchline for the entire NBA community instead of being the dominant on-court force that once carried the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals. On Saturday night, he reminded everyone of just how electric he can be when he’s focused and motivated.
Howard scored 35 points (on 13 for 18 shooting) and grabbed 19 rebounds to lead the Houston Rockets to a 114-97 beating of the Detroit Pistons, and the double-double wasn’t his only contribution. Obviously, a 35-point, 19-rebound explosion is fantastic in any right, but Howard also added 3 blocks (and countless shot alterations) to go with 5 assists, and helped to hold the frontcourt duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to just a combined 19 points.
Houston’s 17-point road win is another big-time indication of just how scary good the 18-10 Rockets can be when they have it going, but Howard’s play has noticeably jumped in recent days, and it’s tough to ignore that he may finally be healthy after a couple years of empty play. It wasn’t all Howard in this one, though, as the Rockets placed 6 players in double-figures, with Chandler Parsons (20 points, 7 rebounds) and Francisco Garcia (16 points, 5 rebounds, assists) filling in admirably for the injured James Harden.
On the Detroit side, it seems as if they simply ran into a gauntlet, and there wasn’t anyone in the league that was going to stop the freight train that was Howard on this occasion. The loss brings the Pistons to just 13-16 on the season, making them a slight disappointment despite being one of the more talented teams in the East, but in all fairness to Detroit, this one was all about Houston.
The whispers of a Dwight Howard renaissance were largely ignored until tonight, but now, those rumblings could turn into full-blown screams in short order.