OAKLAND -– After a sprained left knee limited Dwight Howard in Game 1, the Rockets’ big man was questionable to play in Thursday night’s Game 2 at Oracle Arena against the Warriors.
Not only did Howard start, he was dominant. The 29-year-old center scored 19 points, outpaced only by James Harden and Stephen Curry, and corralled a game-high 17 rebounds (5 offensive) in more than 40 minutes of play.
It didn’t result in a victory, as Golden State squeaked by with a 99-98 decision to take a 2-0 series lead. Still, his coach and teammates appreciated Howard’s effort.
Kevin McHale said: “The guy played fantastic. His knee is bothering him a lot, and you know, one thing about Dwight is when Dwight starts a game, he very seldom wants to come out. … He played his ass off. There's just nothing else you can say. The guy played really, really well.”
“I didn’t know if he was going to play or not, but Dwight showed how strong he is,” James Harden said. “He’s a beast out there, rebounding the basketball, playing through it, not making an excuse of an injury, just going out there and giving it all he got. We’re really proud of him for that.”
Howard indicated he was still experiencing a fair amount of pain on Wednesday, after he collided awkwardly with Josh Smith in the first quarter and was limited to 26 minutes. He tried to play through it, but was eventually shut down early in the fourth quarter of Golden State’s 110-106 win.
It will be up to the Warriors to try and shut Howard down now, as the series shifts back to Houston for Game 3 on Saturday.
"I just tried to play as hard as I could tonight," Howard said. "I didn't think about it at all. Just went out there and gave my teammates all I could give them despite whatever happened with my knee."
“It was a great sacrifice, him sacrificing his body coming out there and just giving the effort he brought tonight,” Terence Jones said. “It was much needed. He just tried to do everything he could to get us a win.”