On Tuesday, in a post-practice chat session with local media, Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard faked a bout of narcolepsy after being asked about what he thought about his upcoming battle with the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. Howard, who played with the Lakers during the notoriously underachieving 2012-13 campaign, quickly roused from his snore session to slough off any suggestions that the Wednesday night contest against his former club would be anything worth paying attention to.

Sadly, he’s right. Not just because we want to see a fire-breathing Kobe Bryant attempt to dunk all over his former talent, or to see if a Steve Nash/Pau Gasol pick and roll could confound the former Defensive Player of the Year, or to wonder if Chris Kaman’s bulk could serve as a distracting force in the paint for the big man. Nah, he’s mostly right because attempting to talk up any controversy surrounding a player that was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for 11 whole months is pretty silly.

On top of that? Bryant’s out. Nash is out, Kaman doesn’t play, and only a reborn and un-traded Pau Gasol is around to go at the former Laker. And that’s not really a fair fight.


Which is why Howard is in a cheery mood, as tip-off approaches. Dwight offered platitudes while talking with the media on Tuesday, but the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen talked to others in the Rockets organization that documented his beaming spirits:

Howard is still often goofy. He was not, and is not, Bryant. The Rockets, however, noticed something else. He is similarly hungry. He has sought extra work, adding morning sessions with former Rockets general manager and assistant coach Carroll Dawson. He dramatically changed his diet. He has become an increasingly vocal leader, even jumping teammates when his side was losing Monday's scrimmages, an act that - blasphemous as it would be to say in Los Angeles - would be very Kobe-like.