According to a league source, the Houston Rockets are petitioning to have four of Dwight Howard’s technical fouls rescinded. Howard leads the league in technical fouls with 12 this season. However, the officiating during the Rockets-Wizards matchup was atrocious. Howard couldn’t catch a break during the game. After scoring a season high of 13 pts in a single quarter, the Wizards were on a mission to shut Howard down and the refs allowed it. Perhaps big men garner less empathy due to their size. Things got out of hand with the likes of Wizard players Jared Dudley and Nene Hilario, who mercilessly jumped and hung on Howard. At one point Howard actually hyper extended his elbow in an unfortunate, yet not surprising, twist considering how injury prone he is. Howard was ejected in the 4th quarter of the Wizards game following a shove to Nene Hilario and batting away referee Mitchell Ervin’s arm, making it the second consecutive game that he’s been ejected from.
Howard was clearly fed up with Nene’s arm locks, saying post ejection, “Stuff like that can cause players to get injured. You don’t want that. Just play basketball. I wouldn’t intentionally try to hurt anybody. I wouldn’t want people to try to intentionally hurt me.” Bickerstaff explained that Howard suffered injuries due to the rough play during the Wizards game. “They didn’t protect Dwight,” Bickerstaff said post-game. “They allowed people to hit him, they allowed people to grab his neck, grab his arms, and hold his shoulders. He’s going to get hurt, plain and simple. The reason why he has the back problems and knee problems is because people jump on his back and grab on his shoulders; these referees need to be held accountable for letting people attack Dwight and be that physical with him. And dirty, it’s not physical; if they let Dwight be physical and be clean that’s one thing. They’re not clean with the way they play. We don’t mind being physical, he’s not afraid of that. But cheap is one thing; grabbing somebody’s shoulders, grabbing somebody’s arms, that’s not clean basketball. And it’s not just tonight, but tonight is an example of it.”
Howard wasn’t the only Rocket to receive a technical that night. Interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff had a technical foul slapped on him when he ran onto the court to get his timeout acknowledged by the referee. Bickerstaff recalled, “I called timeout 46 times. Standing there, [the referee] acknowledged that he saw me, but he didn’t blow his whistle. They called the timeout after they called the travel. To bail [the other official] out, he said he called a timeout. Those are plays that can’t be missed. It’s a one-point game. They win the game by one point on that technical foul because they weren’t in position to make the call.”
Although the Rockets aren’t having the greatest season, the NBA is going to have to do better on the officiating front. James Harden had a great game against the Wizards putting up 40 points [11 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals] but with lackluster defense and Howard absent from protecting the paint in the end, the Rockets lost by one point, 123-122. Technicalities make all the difference in close games.
It was announced during Tuesday’s shoot-around that Howard would be suspended without pay for Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat for swiping the official’s arm during the Wizards matchup. Coach Bickerstaff received a $10,000 fine for his critical remarks of the referees.