- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Even though Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard believes the $35,000 fine he received for his flagrant foul on the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried was exorbitant, he vows to curb his frustration to stop plays such as that from occurring in the future.
"I got to do a better job of keeping my composure and not getting frustrated and also remember that I'm playing for my teammates at all times and stay on the right path," Howard said after the Lakers' shootaround Friday in advance of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Howard was ejected with 5:02 left in the third quarter of the Lakers' 126-114 loss to the Nuggets on Wednesday night. He was called for a flagrant foul 2 when he jammed his hand in Faried's face as the Denver forward drove the lane. Faried tumbled to the floor, but shook off the fall to stay in the game.
After the game, Howard disagreed with the ejection so it wasn't surprising that he also disagreed with the fine that followed.
"It was a lot," Howard said. "It was a lot for a flagrant foul. I'm happy I didn't get suspended; that's the biggest thing. I'm disappointed to be kicked out of a game. That's never happened since I've been in the NBA."
The flagrant foul 2 gives Howard four flagrant points on the season. If that total should get to six, he will receive an automatic one-game suspension.
"I really didn't know I had three (flagrant points)," Howard said. "I guess I got to foul softer so I won't get any (more), I guess. I just got to keep playing."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni spoke to Howard about the incident after the fine.
"It's tough because he gets hit a lot and big guys traditionally get hit a lot," D'Antoni said. "When you're tired, you can get frustrated and that's what happens. He has to watch it as everybody does. It's not easy, but that's part of the game -- a bad part of the game -- but you got to get through it."
D'Antoni said Howard isn't the first big man to go through it.
"Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) had the same thing," D'Antoni said. "Wilt (Chamberlain) had the same thing. The Goliath has that."
Howard put it on himself to shrug off any disparity between how the game is called for backcourt players versus frontcourt players.
"You just can't get frustrated," Howard said. "A lot of times bigs don't get the same respect as the guards do, but that's understandable. Like I said, the biggest thing is I can't allow whatever it is to affect who I am as a player and a person on the court."
Added Howard: "I've been a victim of that for awhile, sucking in to the calls and me not getting calls and getting frustrated when I watch other guys get calls. So, I just got to do what I can do and not focus on nothing else.
"I have to play through it all. I can't allow it to affect me in a negative way to where I'm not playing hard and I'm not doing what I can do and just dominate. When I allow those petty things to get to me, then it affects my teammates and we lose games."
D'Antoni took a page out of Howard's book and did not overreact to the center's comments made following the Denver loss that basically called out the coach for not practicing defense enough.
"It's normal," D'Antoni said. "When you're tired and frustrated, things come out and you guys go right to them when they're tired and get the best, juicy things. When you have a day to think about it, it's not quite like that."
3dEthan Sherwood Strauss
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com