Like it or not, Sixers center Dwight Howard has developed a reputation among league referees as a hothead, and once that reputation is established, it’s very difficult to alter it. Judging by the way things went for Howard on Saturday in Philly’s blowout loss to the Bucks, only the slightest of infractions on Howard’s part will draw the whistle of the refs.
Howard drew his 15th technical foul of the season in the second quarter following his protestation of a loose ball foul called on him as he fought for a rebound with Milwaukee’s Donte DiVincenzo. The call was questionable, and Howard was then T’d up by referee Mark Lindsay for clapping and continuing to talk about the call.
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Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he was stunned by the call.
I didn’t think Dwight should have gotten a tech. … I just thought Dwight’s tech was pure on reputation. I didn’t think he deserved it, I didn’t think he earned it. First of all, it wasn’t a foul on the other end they called on him and there was not another play on the floor, in my opinion, that would have gotten a tech for the same thing that Dwight did. Not one player would have gotten that tech. But it just happened to be Dwight Howard, and he gets techs. And so now, we’re on the threshold.
Dwight Howard Nearing NBA Suspension
The threshold, of course, is 16 total technical fouls which, under league rules, results in an automatic suspension. Howard was called for 14 technicals last season in Los Angeles, which was fifth in the NBA. He sat out for most of 2018-19, but was first in the league in technical fouls in 2017-18, with 25. Howard has ranked in the Top 7 in technical fouls in seven straight seasons in which he has been healthy.
Rivers said he expects technical fouls from Howard because it comes with his emotional and aggressive style of play. But Rivers said it is on Howard to limit the so-called “verbal” technicals he gets by talking back to referees.
“There’s nothing I can do, it is gonna happen,” Rivers said. “If Dwight’s not aggressive, then he’s not the same player. I want Dwight to be Dwight. The verbal techs is what he has to stay away from. The other techs may happen just from exchanges with guys. If we took out his verbal techs, I think we’d be in a good place and that has nothing to do with being aggressive. That has to do with just, gotta stop getting those type of techs.”
Howard Vowed: ‘No More Techs’
Back in late March, after a disastrous two-game stint in Los Angeles in which Howard was ejected from back-to-back games against the Lakers and Clippers, he vowed to clean up his technical act.
“I can’t get no more techs,” Howard said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “You know, it might seem like I’m being selfish or not thinking about the team. But my first thought, my second thought, my third thought is about this team. I want us to win. … I will be better.”
He has been better. At that point in the season, he had 13 technicals in 46 games, one every 3.5 games. Since then it has been two in 14 games, one every 7.0 games. Still, he needs to make it through the Sixers’ final 12 games without a T to avoid going from on the threshold to crossing over it.