Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic, Game 5

Dwight Howard has a technical problem

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Friday night, Dwight Howard picked up technical foul number 15 on the season, helping extend his league lead.

Once he gets his “frequent techicals rewards card” stamped one more time gets an automatic one-game suspension.

It’s really a matter of when — he has averaged a technical every four games this season and the Magic have 23 games left. Even on his best behavior he’s going to get another. Since he gets another one-game suspension for every second technical after 16, he may well miss a couple more games this season.

Then comes the playoffs.

Get seven technical in the playoffs and you are suspended a game (everyone’s total resets to zero). That may seem like a lot, but with emotions higher and the games more intense in the playoffs, technical fouls flow like water sometimes. Kendrick Perkins would have been suspended for a game in the Eastern Conference Finals last season if one technical assessed had not been rescinded by the league.

It will be interesting to see how much the referees relax the “respect the game” techs during the heated playoffs. If at all.

The playoffs are when Howard will really need to control himself. We’ve got questions about whether these Magic are contenders, but if they are to seriously challenge the Celtics and Heat at the top of the East, Howard has to be at the heart of the attack. Every game. He is riding and pushing his teammates right now, trying to get the team back up to the East’s elite. He is putting up monster numbers — averaging 27 and 15 while shooting 67.3 percent in his last 10 games — trying to carry his team up to the next level. He’s even hitting free throws.

He’s going to have to do all that and more come the playoffs for the Magic to really have a chance. Which means he needs to stay on the court.

Basically, starting today, he’s got to get the technical down to a minimum. Because this team needs him on the court to have any chance.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.