Dwight Howard, as expected, is being used by the Los Angeles Lakers against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. The defense was seen as the primary goal although the five-time All-Defensive team member is doing more to throw the Serbian off his game. The 34-year-old has been singled out as the villain in the Lakers vs. Nuggets series and there are a lot of people getting annoyed.

Howard is doing more than just making life miserable for the Nuggets big man. Even on the bench, he has been playing the mental game – something that is equally important in the NBA playoffs. Some may not like it but it is a ploy to try and get Jokic off his game. As can be seen in game 2, Howard has turned on heckler mode and the Nuggets are not liking it, The Athletic reported.

Howard was yelling “Go Home!” and there are Nuggets personnel taking offense. Jokic faces a big test getting through these adversities, not to mention having to guard Anthony Davis. For Howard and JaVale McGee, AD will have his way with the Serbian, Yahoo Sports insider Chris Haynes reported.

The role that Howard is trying to portray is nothing new. He has always been characterized as the villain in several instances. Most will recall that Howard was pretty annoying in his first stint with the Lakers, particularly his storied relationship with Kobe Bryant. This carried on to several other teams like the Houston Rockets.

His second coming was seen as a wake-up call seeing how Howard’s stock has dipped the past years. If not for the injury that befell DeMarcus Cousins, he would have probably been with another team groping for form.

Regardless, it was mentioned in a previous post that Howard’s future with the Lakers may be in limbo. He has hardly been used until now. It was apparent that Frank Vogel would use all his big men to throw Jokic off his game. But the heckling part was something most probably did not anticipate.

Despite the efforts, the Nuggets took Game 3 to cut the Lakers’ series lead to 2-1. The game saw Howard and Jokic still going at it as the mind games continue. This is expected to go on until the end of the series. The Lakers are favored but the Nuggets cannot be counted out.

Dwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard #39 of the Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox