Want additional proof?
Howard has made 18 of his 27 free throws against the Hawks.
Howard stated his feelings pretty clearly before his first game in Atlanta after the trade, a 123-110 win on Jan. 31.
“I want to kill them,” Howard told the Charlotte Observer. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Overall, Howard is averaging 16.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks this season. He is fourth in the NBA with 41 double-doubles.
The Hawks traded Howard to the Hornets last offseason in one of the first moves by new general manager Travis Schlenk. The Hawks signed Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million deal the previous summer.
Therein might be some motivation.
“This is the best year he’s had since his second year in Houston,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “A lot of it goes back to last summer. I think he had a phenomenal summer. He worked extremely hard, both on the court and in the weight room. He came back in phenomenal shape.
Howard is averaging 25.2 points and 9.2 rebounds over the past five games, including two 30-point games.
And here come the Hawks.
The Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy graduate will make his final appearance in his hometown this season. The Hornets are out of the playoff picture with a 29-39 record.
“Everybody in the league has someone that they want to beat when they come back,” Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon said.
No matter the result of the final matchup between the Hawks and Hornets this season, Howard will have bragging rights.