For years and years, opponents' strategy of purposely fouling Dwight Howard to send him to the free-throw line frustrated the Orlando Magic.
But on Dec. 2, in their first game against Howard, the Magic used the Hack-a-Howard strategy to their advantage, using it to frustrate Howard and take the Los Angeles Lakers' offense out of its rhythm.
Howard went 9 for 21 from the foul line and finished with 21 points as the Magic stunned the Lakers 113-103 at Staples Center.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn might use the strategy again when the Magic host the Lakers on Tuesday night at Amway Center.
"Like I said going into that [earlier] game," Vaughn said Monday, "I've always used what the rulebook allows, and that's a part of the game that is allowed, and we decided last time to use it. And I think it worked in our favor. I haven't sat down and said that I'm going to use it or not going to use it. I'll always play within the confines of the game, and that's part of the confines of the game."
The Magic have fewer big men now, with Gustavo Ayón and Josh McRoberts traded and Glen Davis out with a fractured foot.
Howard is shooting 47.8 percent from the line this season, a career-low.
One of Howard's nicknames is "D12" because he wears the No. 12 jersey.
Tobias Harris asked for that number when the Magic acquired him, and the team obliged.
Harris wanted the number to honor Morgan Childs, a childhood friend who died from a blood disorder. Harris wore the number during his senior year of high school on Long Island and during his lone year at the University of Tennessee. He would've worn it with the Milwaukee Bucks, but the number already had been distributed.
Now, some Magic fans have given Harris the nickname "T12."
"That's pretty cool," Harris said. "It's got a good ring to it."
Jameer Nelson predicted that Tuesday's game against the Lakers will be like a "playoff atmosphere."
How will the team's rookies and second-year players respond?
"You could tell them a thousand times, they won't understand what it's going to be like until it's happening and probably until it's over," Nelson said.
Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo has played in two Final Fours and in 32 NBA playoff games.
Afflalo is looking forward to playing in an electric atmosphere.
"If you can get that type of atmosphere or a different type of environment in a regular-season game, it'd be fun to play in," Afflalo said.
Afflalo added that the game could be a good developmental milestone for the Magic's youngsters.
Harris has played just nine games for the Magic, but he already has a sense of how much the matchup against the Lakers will mean to fans.
"You know what's at stake here," Harris said. "Everybody knows the whole situation. We don't have to get into it. But as a player and for a team, our main goal is to win the game."
The Magic will be trying to win consecutive games for the first time since they won four games in a row from Dec. 14 through Dec. 19.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun