Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee have had good nights for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, but when one of them has done well, the other has taken a step back. That theme is starting to change for the better.
On Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors, Howard and McGee tallied a combined 33 points on 62.5% shooting from the field to go along with 25 rebounds — 17 of which came from McGee — 5 assists and four blocks. The game before that against the Phoenix Suns, they combined for 23 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Even if Howard and McGee aren’t going to share the floor this season, it’s going to be important for them to learn how to co-exist, and it seems like they’re starting to that doing that and more. After Wednesday’s win, Howard said that he and McGee have kept each other motivated all season and shared his thoughts on how the pairing has worked so far.
“If I’m having a bad game then he’s picking me up. If he’s having a bad game then I’m picking him up. If we’re both having a great game, we’re winning the game. It’s pretty good. I like it,” Howard said.
Howard also grave props to McGee after his best game of the season.
”He played amazing. I’m so proud of him, man. On both ends of the floor,” Howard said. “Every day we just push each other, and I’m happy to see it. Just to see him doing so well and dominating on both ends of the floor, I’m super proud of him.”
Between Howard and McGee, the Lakers can play 48 minutes with a traditional, rim-blocking big man at the center position. While that hasn’t been the blueprint for success in recent years with the rise of “small ball,” McGee thinks he and Howard can make it fashionable again.
”I feel like because of Golden State, the whole league has went away from the standard big man. So me and Dwight are definitely working hard to bring it back and just letting people know that it’s necessary for a big man in the game. And what better place to do it than where the greatest big men have played?” McGee said.
Unlike the big men of Lakers past, though, McGee and Howard won’t be tasked with putting up 30 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per game (at least not individually), and that’s okay. Howard knows what is expected of him and McGee, and he said they plan on executing it to the best of their abilities — because that’s what’s best for the Lakers.
”We do what is asked of us. We protect the basket, finish around the rim and make everybody else better, especially on the defensive end. When we do that, we’re doing our job and fulfilling our purpose,” Howard said.