Dwight Howard is terrible at free throws. You know it, Dwight knows it, even the league knows it. That’s why the NBA decided to create a rule that would reduce how many times Howard, a career 57.6% shooter, would make it to the charity stripe.
When put that way it seems ludicrous, but it’s actually rather brilliant. It’s filed under the NBA rule-book as an ‘away-from-the-play foul’ and defined as, “illegal contact by the defense in the last two minutes of the game, and/or overtime, which occurs (1) deliberately away from the immediate area of offensive action, and/or (2) prior to the ball being released on a throw-in.”
Before that rule was implemented an opponent had the ability of honing in on Dwight during the final two minutes of the game and forcing him to the line. Not only was that an excruciating ordeal for the fans as the game slowed down considerably but it seemed kind of unfair as Howard was nowhere near the ball when he was being mauled. The league must have agreed with those sentiments because they decided to do something about it.
Fast forward to last nights clash between Dwight Howard’s Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony’s New York Knicks. With about a minute and 30 seconds remaining in the game Anthony knocked down two free throws to cut Houston’s lead to two. As Jeremy Lin dribbled the ball up the court Anthony located Howard and gave him a giant bear-hug. It wasn’t until a few seconds after the altercation that J.R. Smith reminded him that the ‘Hack-a-Dwight’ strategy no longer existed within the final two minutes.
As per the rule, Houston was awarded a free throw that could be taken by a player of their choosing (James Harden) and got the ball as well. The Knicks would go on to lose 109-106 and Carmelo put it rather well when he said, “That was a boneheaded play on my behalf.”