On a night where he surpassed the late-great Wilt Chamberlain, Dwight Howard put up 45 points to propel the Orlando Magic to their third straight victory with a win over the Golden State Warriors, 117-109, on Thursday.
Howard made history when he broke Chamberlain’s nearly 50-year-old NBA record for most free throw attempts in a game, hitting 21 of a record 39 from the stripe at ORACLE Arena. Chamberlain’s top mark of 34 came on Feb. 22, 1962, in a game between the Philadelphia Warriors and St. Louis Hawks. The Warriors tired to hack Howard into submission, sending the notoriously poor shooter to the line early and often, but the plan didn’t work.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, entering Thursday night’s contest, Howard shot a low 42.6 percent from the foul line and missed nine of 12 free throw attempts in a win against the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday. In addition to breaking the record, Howard became tied for the third-most missed free throws in an game. Only Chamberlain (22, 19 and 18) has ever missed as many free throws in an NBA game. The former Lakers great and Hall of Famer ranks second in NBA history with 11,862 career attempts.
Unfortunately for the Warriors (3-7), Howard fared much better on Thursday as he eclipsed his previous best of 24 attempts with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter. The Magic’s perennial All-Star finished with 45 points and 23 rebounds, to become the only active player to accomplish such a feat. It was his first 40 plus points and 20 plus rebound performance of his career. It also marked the first time a player had at least 40 points and 20 rebounds since Shaquille O’Neal –another poor free throw shooter- had 48 points and 20 rebounds against the Celtics on March 1, 2003.
Summing up the historic night, Howard said, “I just tried to be aggressive and get to the line. I didn’t care if I missed 30. I was still going to go up there and shoot the next one with confidence.” The Magic (8-3) will travel to the Big Apple to face Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks on Monday.