The Lakers took a huge hit on their road trip back to respectability Thursday night in Boston, losing to their hated rivals 116-95. And head coach Mike D’Antoni threw himself directly into the Dwight Howard injury controversy, saying that Howard could have played in any of the last three games he missed with an injured shoulder.
“He’s been cleared (to play) for a while,” D’Antoni told the media after the loss in Boston. “He’s always been cleared.”
Moments later D’Antoni must have realized the potential impact of his statement, because he tried to clarify — or tone down — his comments.
“Yeah, he’s always been cleared,” the coach said, “because he’s got a tear that’s always going to be there. But he’s had pain, and obviously he’s not going to play with the pain. He felt better today and that’s why he played.”
Howard scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in 28 minutes before fouling out. However, it was D12’s off-the-court actions — or inactions — that dominated the headlines before and after the game, starting with some pointed remarks from Kobe Bryant.