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Howard moves one step closer to suspension

Mar 19, 2010, 11:05 AM EDT

Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, because the Magic are a better team with better chemistry and more depth. That one point the Heat gained off of the technical free throw bore only fleeting significance, as late game surges by Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis put Orlando over the top and kept them there.

Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, but in this case the Magic’s short-term success in spite of Dwight’s tech may be offset by the long-term implications: that technical foul was Dwight’s 15th of the year, just one short of a mandatory one-game suspension. Howard’s next T will be met with a game on the bench.

Not to play the ‘poor, pitiful Dwight’ card here, but big men are pushed, pulled, held, and fouled in ways that most others players and refs are completely oblivious of. That’s the burden of being the biggest, baddest dude on the court, and when your presence is as menacing and influential as Howard’s, you’re going to get fouled. A lot. Only some of those fouls are going to be called, because officiating is an undeniably human element of the game we know and love.

Big men often have a reason to complain, and while the calls for Dwight et al to just “play the damn game” are justified to an extent, I sympathize. I’ve seen undersized players hook Howard’s arm as he goes up for a rebound. I’ve seen them tug on his jersey. Hell, I’ve seen Howard do the very same things to other players.

That doesn’t make things any less frustrating for the always expressive Howard, but it does speak to this kind of trench warfare as a fact of life. I don’t know if that justifies Howard’s complaining to the refs or removes its base entirely, but Dwight should cut it out regardless. Orlando isn’t in a particularly vulnerable position right now, but that doesn’t mean Howard and the team can’t tread softly in order to avoid losing a bit of the momentum they’ve built up in recent weeks.

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