Fans in Orlando let Dwight Howard hear how they felt. His former teammates let him feel it.
In his first game back in his old stomping ground since being traded to Los Angeles during the offseason, Howard received the welcome expected. After being booed, loudly, as the visiting Lakers were introduced, Howard absorbed 24 personal fouls.
Whether it was deployed in response to Howard's recent digs at his former teammates or in hopes of exploiting his historic deficiencies at the line, the Magic's hack-a-Dwight strategy sent Howard to the free throw line for an NBA-record tying 39 attempts. He made 25 of those shots. Howard had previously set the attempts record while wearing a Magic uniform in 2012. He tied it while wearing Magic players for much of the second half on Tuesday night. Thanks in large part to Howard's season-high 39 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks, the Lakers emerged from with a 106-97 win, their fourth in a row.
"I wasn't nervous tonight," Howard told the Orlando Sentinel after game. "I was looking forward to coming back and playing here. I was happy to be here. It was a fun game. It was a hostile environment, but I think it was something that was good for me in my progress as a player, and I think I needed that tonight."