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Lakers need Dwight Howard to stay out of foul trouble

April 25, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers center Dwight Howard tries to power his way past Spurs power forward Tim Duncan during Game 2 of their best-of-seven playoff series Wednesday night in San Antonio.
Lakers center Dwight Howard tries to power his way past Spurs power forward… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)

The Lakers needed more than 33½ minutes from Dwight Howard in Game 2 of their series against the San Antonio Spurs.

Howard committed his fourth personal foul with 8:37 left in the third quarter. The Lakers, down 11, lost their All-Star center for the remainder of the period with foul trouble.

The Lakers have almost no margin for error. Without Howard dominating the game, their chances hover around slim and none.

Five minutes into the fourth, with the Spurs up by 14, Howard collected his fifth penalty. The Lakers needed him on the floor to mount the comeback that didn't happen.

Three of Howard's fouls were of the loose-ball variety; the remaining two were offensive — most were careless and unnecessary.

For the game, Howard had an efficient 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He blocked four shots and pulled down nine boards. The Lakers needed at least another 10 minutes of Howard putting up those numbers.

Pau Gasol, in 35 minutes — without a single foul -- also came up short for the Lakers with just 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

The team is facing a difficult challenge against the Spurs without Kobe Bryant (Achilles' tear) and a long list of mounting injuries including Steve Nash (hamstring), Steve Blake (hamstring) and Jodie Meeks (ankle).

Maybe the 102-91 outcome was inevitable, but if the Lakers want to compete they need Howard to dominate while avoiding unnecessary fouls that force him to the bench.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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