Dwight was dominant defensively against the Orlando Magic

USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard returned to Orlando, the home floor he defended for eight years while grabbing three Defensive Player of the Year awards, and looked the part.

Dwight Howard was dominant in his return to Orlando. Not because he hit a stupidly-inflated amount of free throws as he plodded up to the charity stripe for 39 free throw attempts. Not because he dove into the heart of the city he once called home and emerged with the bleeding organ in his hand. Not even because he grabbed 12+ rebounds for the 11th straight game.

He was dominant because he looked like the three-time Defensive Player of the Year that the Lakers acquired this past Summer. His conditioning and focus look better with each passing game. On a hardwood floor plastered with an Orlando Magic logo he once again looked like the most dominant defensive big man in the NBA.

Howard set the tone in the first quarter as he detonated the Magic's pick and roll game single-handedly. Looking over the stats, when Howard was in the game the Magic's average shot distance was 10.64 feet from the basket. When he was out? 7.34 feet. With advanced defensive statistics still widely unable to measure the metrics, the fact that Howard kept the Magic nearly three feet further from the rim when he was in the game is a great indicator of how dominant he was at locking down the paint.

Yes, that monster in the moat kept the invaders away from the keep.

In this edition of the playbook we'll take a look at how Dwight denied the Magic's offense early in the game.

Play #1

The Magic set a high-screen with Nikolas Vucevic.

Dw1_1_medium

Jameer Nelson goes over the top, Howard is reading the offense to pick out which way Nelson will take the screen.

Dw1_2_medium

Howard rotates and gets down in a defensive stance. Nelson stops in his tracks and kicks the ball out to Tobias Harris. Harris passes the ball back to Nelson who takes a contested isolation three that misses. This is a great example of Howard facing the Magic to hit outside jumpers, and why the Magic's shot distance was further away from the rim while he was patrolling the paint.

Dw1_3_medium

Play #2

Arron Afflalo is going to go under the screen that Vucevic sets.

Dw2_1_medium

This is a great defensive set from the Lakers. Kobe recognizes the screen and opens up his stance, effectively funneling Afflalo into Howard who is ready to protect the rim.

Dw2_2_medium

Howard digs down and slides his feet to stay with Afflalo. With Kobe funneling, he never eats the screen and is quick to recover.

Dw2_3_medium

Afflalo is trapped far away from the rim. Kobe throws his hands up and the Lakers have effectively... gasp... TRAPPED somebody. A rarity this season.

Dw2_4_medium

They push Afflalo to the baseline, but he kicks the ball out to Tobias Harris who hits the three and gets the first points on the board for Orlando. Regardless of the outcome, this is another great example of Howard sealing off the paint and forcing shots from the perimeter.

Dw2_5_medium

Play #3

Another pick and roll attempt.

Dw3_1_medium

Nash is caught by the screen and Nelson will run into Dwight.

Dw3_2_medium

Instead of challenging Howard, he kicks the ball to the perimeter to Harris. Howard again sealed off the paint and is down in a defensive stance, ready to pick up Nelson. He recovers and rotates over to the weak side.

Dw3_3_medium

Metta World Peace recovers, but Harris drives to the rim.

Dw3_4_medium

No dice. Howard rotated quick enough after stopping the pick and roll and leaps up for a block.

Dw3_5_medium

Play #4

A pause from the defense, and a reminder of how important it is to have a big man who has great foot speed and can recover.

Do2_1_medium

Also, a good time to reflect on how great it is that Howard is setting strong screens now.

Do2_2_medium

See how far out Vucevic is from Nash, and the lack of a strong defensive stance to slide his feet and cover ground?

Do2_3_medium

An easy two-point shot for Steve Cash.

Do2_4_medium

Play #5

Speaking of great footwork and a defensive stance...

Dw5_1_medium

Nelson gets the separation from Nash after the screen is set, watch Dwight's feet as he rotates to defend this play.

Dw5_2_medium

He keeps his left pivot foot down and shifts his right back, opening his stance.

Dw5_3_medium

As Nelson proves, he moves his body right and continues to seal.

Dw5_4_medium

Nash eventually recovers and this is another pick and roll set sent to the graveyard.

Dw5_5_medium

Play #6

Now, a perfect defensive sequence from Dwight Howard in every sense.

Dw6_1_medium

Al Harrington sets a high-screen for Beno Udrih. Howard is again down and ready to put down any penetration towards his domain.

Dw6_2_medium

Udrih tries to lower his head and drive by, but Howard pokes the ball loose and the play resets with Udrih recovering.

Dw6_3_medium

The Magic swing the ball over to Arron Afflalo. Harrington sets another screen.

Dw6_4_medium

Footwork time! Howard opens up his stance as he picks up Afflalo.

Dw6_5_medium

As Afflalo drives Howard keeps his right foot as a pivot and shifts with the momentum of Afflalo. Still, Afflalo creates separation from Howard by lowering his shoulder into him and pushing off.

Dw6_6_medium

No matter, as Howard recovers and climbs up for another huge block. A phenomenal sequence with Howard demolishing two pick and rolls and recovering for a block.

Dw6_7_medium

--

Dwight Howard has looked as dominant as he has the entire season since the All-Star break. He went into Orlando and looked as if he never left, echoing the kind of performance that his old self in that white and blue jersey would have hung his hat on. If he can continue blowing up dribble penetration, as he has frequently in the last few weeks, the Lakers can continue rolling into the playoffs. Simple schemes, like Kobe Bryant funneling the ball-handler into Howard, become much more effective when Howard is able to do his part.

With more familiarity through the team with their sudden defensive monster, the more natural sequences like that will occur. And, just as a refrain on the point earlier on the shot distance when Howard was in and out of the game (nearly three feet of space that Howard took away from Orlando), here are two shot distribution charts from the Orlando Magic:

The First - Distribution of shots in Tuesday's game

Shotchart_1363184319898_medium

Only 30 of the Magic's 93 field goal attempts came around the rim, or 32.26 percent of their shot selection. 32 percent of the Magic's attempts came from beyond the arc.

The Second - Distribution of Orlando's shots on the season

Shotchart_1363192993148_medium

On average through the season, the Magic have taken 41.01 percent of their shots around the rim. A near ten percent drop-off from the game they put on against the Lakers. Only 22 percent of their shots were coming from beyond the arc, and through the majority of the season they had J.J. Redick who was shooting 39 percent from deep on his 300 attempts.

Bonus

Dwight Howard is going to move down and slip the screen without even setting it. He literally just jogs through the gap.

Do4_1_medium

He keeps rolling to the rim and both Magic defenders are hounding Kobe.

Do4_2_medium

Kobe hits Dwight with a perfect bounce pass as he closes in on the rim. Harris is close enough to challenge the dunk but...

Do4_3_medium

Winds up on the other end of the key? No matter. DWIGHT SMASH!

Do4_4_medium

Good fight, good night, Orlando.

Kiss_medium

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- Shot distance information pulled from NBAWOWY.com

More on the Lakers:

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.

Join Silver Screen and Roll

You must be a member of Silver Screen and Roll to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Silver Screen and Roll. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker