- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The past two times Dwight Howard had spoken to the media prior to the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night -- after the Portland game Wednesday and after shootaround Friday -- he had a clear and direct message to impart.
The Lakers needed to pound the ball inside more to slow down the game.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was asked about Howard's preference before Friday's game, and while he didn't completely disagree with his All-Star center's wishes, he wasn't thrilled by the notion either.
"Where's he playing? Inside? Oh, that's right," D'Antoni with a laugh. "Some of the little guys told me, 'Let's play outside-in!'"
D'Antoni said the team has been working the ball in more to Howard and Pau Gasol already.
"Inside-out is good with our team because we have a big team and we'll do that," D'Antoni said. "We've been doing that. We have slowed it down because we're a slower team. That's OK. But I don't think you come up with these theories to try to figure it out. Once you start trying to figure things out, that's like golf -- 'I got my swing, I figured it out.' That's when you start hooking and slicing and everything else. It doesn't work that way. You play hard."
Holward said after shootaround that going to the post more often and using more shot clock wil help the defense.
"When you slow the game down, teams can't run," Howard said. "When they run, they put you in tough positions because guys got to come out and help in different spots and everybody is scrambling. But when the defense is set, everybody knows where they need to be and you're able to just navigate through an offense. Especially for guys like me, when I'm back and I can see everything, then it's good for our defense. I'm able to talk, I'm able to tell guys where to go. But when you try to get back in transition, the floor is spread, everybody can just drive down the lane and that puts pressure on the bigs. For me, I just try not to get in foul trouble because I'm a very important piece on the defensive end."
On that point, D'Antoni and Howard were in full agreement.
"For us, if we want to be a serious team, then defensively we got to be good on every play," D'Antoni said. "We can't choose and pick and be up and down with the energy. If we do that, then the offense is going to take care of itself."
So does that mean more post-ups?
"When you got Kobe Bryant on the floor, sometimes it's going to be outside-outside," D'Antoni said laughing. "That's just the way it's going to be. We'll try to involve everybody as much as we can, but offensively it's going OK. It's the defensive end that everybody has got to collectively play every play."
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