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The Sixers’ Dwight Howard keeps moving up the career lists ... and providing strong play | Off the Dribble

Just this week, Howard moved up to No. 12 all-time in rebounds and No. 13 in blocked shots.

Dwight Howard of the SIxers pulls down a rebound against the Heat during the 1st half of a NBA game at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 12, 2021.
Dwight Howard of the SIxers pulls down a rebound against the Heat during the 1st half of a NBA game at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 12, 2021.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Sixers fans. You won’t find a more exciting game than Tuesday’s 137-134 overtime win over the visiting Miami Heat.

Of course, Miami was even more depleted than the Sixers and the game should never have been that close, but the Sixers will take the “W” and prepare for the Thursday rematch.

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Two lists in two days for Howard

At 35 years old and in his 17th NBA season, Sixers backup center Dwight Howard seems to be passing a milestone almost every day.

With his lone blocked shot against the Heat, Howard moved past Ben Wallace for 13th all-time in NBA history. He now has 2,138 blocks.

During Monday’s 112-94 loss at Atlanta, he passed Wes Unseld to become No. 12 all-time in rebounds. He now has 13,778. Recently, he passed Hakeem Olajuwon on the rebounding list, as well.

“It means the world,” Howard said after the Miami game about moving up these lists. “A lot of times, we go through life and we go through things that happen in our career and never stop and really take the opportunity to just enjoy certain things.”

A member of last season’s NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers, Howard is taking nothing for granted.

“I’m very thankful, I’m grateful that I’m able to still play this game, in year 17, and just be on the same list as most people, my name and me rebounding like that, it is something that will always be there,” Howard said. “So it’s a big blessing and I am humbled.”

Besides reaching milestones, Howard been an outstanding backup center to three-time All-Star Joel Embiid. An eight-time All-Star himself, Howard is nowhere near the scorer he used to be, but he is still a strong rebounder.

One negative is that he tends to commit unnecessary fouls. Still, Howard has brought plenty of energy. Coach Doc Rivers said in training camp that Howard was the best-conditioned player on the team.

He is averaging 6.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes. Howard is effective on the offensive glass, averaging 2.0 offensive rebounds.

As a rebounder, he is especially adept at taking the right angles, and he has had to adapt over the years.

“When I first came in the league, it was all muscle and punching and kicking and ... fighting in the paint to get rebounds,” Howard said. “And then over time, it has changed so I have to learn how to adapt and grow and change with the game.”

Starting five

Keith Pompey writes that the Sixers were fined $25,000 for leaving Ben Simmons off Saturday’s injury report. The Sixers lost, 115-103, to Denver on Saturday.

With the pandemic not slowing, David Murphy wonders if the NBA can survive this season.

Pompey has all the details of Tuesday’s 137-134 OT win over the Miami Heat.

After three losses in a row, the Sixers dropped in The Inquirer’s NBA power rankings, but they didn’t fall out of the top 10.

Pompey writes about Rivers’ explanation for why Simmons left New York while Sixers stayed to quarantine after the Nets game.

Iguodala still contributing

In the 2004 NBA draft, the Sixers chose Andre Iguodala with the No. 9 overall pick out of the University of Arizona. When the Sixers and Heat meet on Thursday, Iguodala will be on the court with the only other player from that draft’s first round who is still in the NBA.

That would be Howard, who was the first overall selection.

Iguodala, who will turn 37 on Jan. 28, serves as a veteran presence in his 17th season. He has started two of eight games. He spent his first eight NBA seasons with the Sixers, earning his lone All-Star berth in 2011-12. As a Sixer, he averaged 15.3 points and was an accomplished defender.

Iguodala was traded to Denver, but gained his greatest success with Golden State, where he was the NBA Finals MVP in 2015 and earned three championships.

In fact, Iguodala has a streak of six consecutive NBA Finals appearances, five with Golden State and last season with the Heat. He is 29th all-time with 166 career playoff games.

Early in his career, he was an ironman, having played all 82 games in five of his first six seasons with the Sixers. This season, he is averaging 4.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18.4 minutes.

Mainly because of his defensive ability and his contribution to Golden State’s championship run, Warriors coach Steve Kerr once said, “He is probably a future Hall of Famer.”

Important dates

Thursday: Miami Heat at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday: Sixers at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m., FedEx Forum, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sunday: Sixers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m., Chesapeake Energy Arena, NBC Sports Philadelphia/ NBA TV

Jan. 20: Boston Celtics at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Jan. 22: Boston Celtics at Sixers, 7:30 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, ESPN/NBC Sports Philadelphia

Passing the rock

Question: Hey Marc! NBA released the first half of the NBA schedule, can you speak a little more to the effect these postponed games (potentially more to come) will have on the second half of the NBA schedule and beyond? Conversely, where is the league in terms of NBA Bubble 2.0? Thanks! — Ryan McBride, @RyanMcBride on Twitter

Answer: Good question, Ryan, and thanks for submitting it. The NBA at this point doesn’t know what will happen. The first half of the schedule will end March 4. From March 5-10, there is a scheduled break. Whether some of the games can be made up at that point remains to be seen. At this point, Boston has three games to make up.

The second half of the season is scheduled to be played March 11 to May 16. The NBA can obviously extend those dates if there are too many games to make up.

As for a bubble, I think that will come only as a last resort. Forbes reported that it cost the NBA $180 million to be in the bubble last season. The NBA is hoping that the vaccine can be effective enough to allow more teams to have fans in the second half of the season. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but in my opinion, the NBA will try everything possible not to return to a bubble.