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have been suspended for a game in the Eastern Conference Finals last season if one technical assessed had not been rescinded by the league.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.