Hornets' Howard records rare 30-point, 30-rebound game

Dwight Howard channeled his inner Wilt Chamberlain - or his younger self - for a rare level of dominance against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Howard finished the game with 32 points and 30 rebounds, leading the Charlotte Hornets to a comeback victory and becoming just the second player since 1982 to reach 30 points and 30 rebounds in one game.

Howard joins Kevin Love as the only two players to accomplish the feat in the last 36 years. Love scored 31 points and 31 rebounds against the New York Knicks in 2010 as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Moses Malone did it in 1982, and it was a more common feat in basketball’s earlier days, when Chamberlain recorded an incredible 124 games with a 30-30 stat line. Rebounds are generally more contested in the modern NBA, but Howard had a distinct height advantage against the Nets, who employed a smaller lineup than usual for most of Wednesday’s contest.

Brooklyn led by as many as 23 points midway through the third quarter, but Howard took over in the second half, grabbing 20 of his 30 rebounds and leading the Hornets on long scoring runs to cut into the deficit. Charlotte didn’t take the lead until late in the fourth quarter, where Howard even drained some free throws to seal the 111-105 win (he was 12-of-21 from the line in the game). It was a vintage performance that recalled not only those of Chamberlain and Malone, but also Howard’s early career, when he led the league in rebounding in five of six seasons between 2008 and 2013 and was affectionately known as Superman.

Howard no longer plays at that level every game, and he and the Hornets are in the midst of a lost season, barely clinging to playoff hopes that will likely be snuffed out soon. But Wednesday offered a glimpse of what could have been if Howard never stopped being the dominant force he was in his time with the Orlando Magic, and it gave Charlotte a reason to celebrate during an otherwise forgettable year.