Dwight Howard feels that his reputation has earned him more than a few technical fouls. On Saturday, the 76ers center was assessed his NBA-leading 15th technical foul. With the next one, he will receive a $5,000 fine and serve a one-game suspension.
He received his 15th technical foul in Saturday’s 132-94 loss in Milwaukee.
Howard was unavailable for comment after the game, but did discuss the matter following Monday’s 121-90 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I do feel like I am being targeted, every night,” the 17th-year center said.
Howard then quickly made an exception.
“Tonight was actually one night where I wasn’t targeted so I feel pretty good …,” he said.
He then returned to the original question.
“I do feel like I’ve been targeted, but I am just going to continue to play as hard as I can,” he said. “I want the Philly fans to know that I am out there giving 130% every night. The calls might not go my way, I might seem a little frustrated, but I am out there to help this team win a championship.”
Nobody has questioned Howard’s will to win or his effort. Before the game, coach Doc Rivers talked about that effort.
“It’s amazing how dominating he is on the glass,” Rivers said. “For us we got to take away some of those offensive fouls, some of the turnovers. If we can get that out of his game and obviously the technicals as well, he has been absolutely fantastic for us overall.”
Howard is averaging just 17.4 minutes per game but is 11th in the NBA in offensive rebounding (2.7 per game) and 17th in overall rebounding (8.4 per game).
More telling is that he is second in rebounds per 100 possessions (23.3) and third in offensive rebounds per 100 possessions (7.4).
Howard picked up his technical on Saturday for clapping after the referees made a call. That caused Rivers to also receive a T. The Sixers coach said after the game that he got the T after complaining about Howard’s technical.
“Sometimes the refs do give me some calls that I feel are unwarranted, even the technical foul last game, I got a tech and I just clapped, so you know some things seem kind of crazy, but I have to realize my position on this team and what I have to do to help this team win. I have to make sure that I hold myself accountable to do the right things.”
Last month in a two-game span at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Howard was ejected in consecutive games, a 109-101 win over the Lakers and a 122-112 loss to the Clippers. He received two technicals in both games. Howard was ejected in the first quarter against the Lakers and with 10 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game against the Clippers.
What made it worse for the Sixers was that center Joel Embiid was out for both games, among the 10 he sat out with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Howard understands it is not all the referees’ fault that he has received the 15 technicals.
“I have to make sure that I hold myself accountable and do the right things and I hate it, I’ve got this many techs,” he said. “It doesn’t show my character, who I am as a person, a player, so I’ve got to do a better job of that, but a lot of my techs have been just really quick and when I’m on the court, I’m passionate, I want to win.”
Howard has to straddle the line, keeping his aggressive nature, but not going overboard.
“I come from old-school basketball so I like to talk trash, I like to hit people, I like to push people, hands down,” he said. “It’s not like I’m doing it to be malicious, but it’s how I play, it’s Philly basketball so I can’t help it.”
When asked if he has to change his style of play, Howard said, “I feel like I have to be smart, especially in the playoffs. … I have to make sure I keep my eye on the prize, keep my mouth shut unless I am talking to my teammates and we should win the games.”