Metta World Peace is averaging 1 1/2 assists a game, but the one he had over the weekend was eagerly scooped up by Lakers teammate Dwight Howard.
While World Peace fought his own battle against flagrant fouls, as in the many called against him, he suggested the NBA wasn't protecting Howard from a slew of hard fouls.
Howard's response? Hey, thanks.
"I don't want a backlash of people thinking I'm trying to cry about stuff, but most of the injuries, or all of the injuries, that I've had the past couple of years have come from fouls," he said in an interview Sunday. "It started with my eyes, and people slapping me in the face. Then I ended up hurting my back because people just jump on my back as I'm coming up [to shoot]. And this season my shoulder. Hopefully it stops here.
"I'm not going to stop playing and I'm going to fight through it, but [World Peace] is right. A lot of stuff happens and it just gets overlooked because of my size or whatever."
Like World Peace, Howard has flagrant-foul problems of his own — they are tied for the league lead with five "points" in the NBA's penalty system. One more flagrant will lead to at least a one-game suspension, perhaps two games.
But Howard seemed to enjoy talking about the other side of the hard-foul coin Sunday.
"I'm not complaining about it. I understand it, for the most part. I get fouled almost every single play and I know that the refs are not going to call it," he said. "For me, I just have to play through it and try not to get injured. Sometimes it's tough because I try a quick shot before I get fouled and I end up missing instead of just going up through the contact. As I get stronger, as my body gets back to being where it was before I got injured, I've just got to keep playing through it."
The other side
With two players logging so many flagrant fouls, the question has to be asked.
Are the Lakers a dirty team?
World Peace, suspended 11 times since 2003, wouldn't ever admit such a thing
"You've got guys on this team like Steve Nash. Is he a dirty player?" World Peace said. "You can't say the Lakers are dirty."
You sure about that?
"There's so many players in the NBA that play aggressive. And if you put all those players on one team, and they're not all on this team, they'd be the most aggressive team," World Peace said.
"If you had a team of Dwight, Chris Paul, myself, [Reggie] Evans, Gerald Wallace, Tony Allen, Mike James from Dallas. You put a team like that, people would say that's a dirty team. It's just how a player plays.
"When guys say we're dirty, we're just playing hard. We're playing, we're reacting."