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After Midnight

Dwight Howard staying focused on big picture in the Big Easy

NEW ORLEANS - While the vast majority of the NBA world was either fast asleep or, more likely, out and about sampling the uniquely bacchanalian flavor of New Orleans, Dwight Howard was putting himself through yet another one of his season-long series of rigorous late night workouts at a suburban gym in the Big Easy.

The session began just a few minutes after midnight with weightlifting and pull-ups, before it expanded to some deep stretching and a diverse set of on-court drills with Rockets assistant coach Derrick Alston and teammate Robert Covington. By the time that nocturnal trio wrapped things up, each was soaked in sweat. The time on a nearby clock read 1:30 AM. So much for the stereotypical All-Star break.

“I’ve been doing it for a while,” Howard said the next morning. “We have a very important season. You can’t just stop working because it’s All-Star weekend and everybody’s taking breaks. That don’t mean I need to take a break. I need to go out there and practice, trying to make myself better for the second half of the season.

“We’ve done that for the most part of the season. Me and Derrick Alston and (Rockets assistant coach) Greg Buckner are always in the gym at night. We go back and work out every night and we’ve been doing that for a good two-to-three months. It’s something I enjoy doing, it’s something that has made me a lot better and we’re going to continue to do it.”

“We just want to make sure we stay in shape. Three days off is not good for us. We’ve got to make sure we keep our bodies in order while we’re here. We can have our fun and go out and do whatever you want to do, but you’ve still got to focus on what’s most important and that’s the season.”