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Dwight Howard close to Wilt Chamberlain in free-throw inaccuracy

The center entered Friday with 48.6% accuracy from the line, currently fifth-worst in Lakers history for players with more than 150 attempts in a season.

April 05, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

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The Lakers don't want to miss the playoffs for only the third time in their last 37 seasons.

Dwight Howard is also trying to avoid Bottom Three status.

If he misses too many free throws, he'll be next to Wilt Chamberlain for one of the worst free-throw shooting seasons in team history.

Howard entered Friday with 48.6% accuracy from the line, currently fifth-worst in Lakers history for players with more than 150 attempts. He's close to falling behind two ex-Lakers.

Shaquille O'Neal made only 48.4% in 1996-97 and Elmore Smith made only 48.5% in 1974-75.

Chamberlain had the two worst free-throw shooting seasons for the Lakers, making only 42.2% in 1971-72 and 44.6% in 1968-69.

The Lakers aren't giving up on Howard. Coach Mike D'Antoni even outlined an ambitious plan.

"We'd like to get everybody in the 80s" percentage-wise, he said. "He's got a little ways to go to get to 80. I don't think we ever stop worrying about it or stop talking about it, but it's not just him. It's everybody.

"But I don't worry about what we're going to do. He's going to play and if they want to foul him, he's going to step up and make them. So that's our game plan right now."

Howard made three of six free throws Friday against Memphis. He had nine points in the Lakers' 86-84 victory.

Nice call

Howard remembers the trauma of the broken leg he sustained after dunking in a game as a teenager.

So he felt compelled to call Kevin Ware after seeing the Louisville player's gruesome injury in the NCAA men's basketball tournament Sunday.

"I know how it feels. When I broke my leg, everybody thought that my career was done when I was 15," Howard said. "Look where it got me. I'm pretty sure it's going to push him to work even harder."

Ware sustained a compound fracture of his right tibia in Louisville's 85-63 victory over Duke. Howard called him earlier this week.

"Steve [Nash] and Pau [Gasol] and the rest of the guys said hello to him also," Howard said. "I'm happy that he's out of surgery. He's looking forward to getting back on the court. His spirits are pretty good."

Howard and Ware were both raised in Atlanta. They played on the same youth team several years apart.

"Us Celtics stick together,' Howard said before quickly specifying something for Lakers fans. "That's the Atlanta Celtics."

Howard needed two screws in his left leg when he was hurt.

"When I finished, I was taller than when I started," he said.

Nash setback?

Nash sat out Friday's game because of hamstring and hip soreness, but D'Antoni said it wasn't a setback.

"He was hoping" to play, D'Antoni said. "He's just not quite ready."

Nash has missed part or all of the Lakers' last four games. He is averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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