Monday, March 7, 2011
Updated: March 8, 1:36 PM ET
Coach takes up Dwight Howard's cause
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says he thinks Dwight Howard has shown restraint on the court this season despite picking up the league's first suspension for excessive technical fouls.
Van Gundy quoted an Elias Sports Bureau statistic Monday that notes Howard has been fouled 593 times this season without any of those calls being labeled flagrant.
Howard is serving a one-game suspension Monday night against the Trail Blazers after picking up his 16th technical of the season against Chicago on Friday. For every two technicals he receives the remainder of the season he also must sit out a game.
"I think he has settled down," Van Gundy said. "He's gotten two [technicals] in the last month [and] he hasn't gotten any for arguing. His problems were early in the year when he got a lot of arguing calls. Lately what he's gotten is two for retaliating for hits he's taken after the whistle and I think to be quite honest he's already had great restraint on those plays.
"... You guys can estimate how many of those were hard hits and how many of those were above the shoulders ... I would say his control is amazing."
Howard said Sunday after the Magic's practice that he must try not to let officiating affect how he plays going forward.
"It's very tough, but I've just got to do it," Howard told reporters. "I think it's like they want to make an example out of me, but I'll just stay positive and continue to do all the things that I do to bring fun to the game. That's all I can do. I'm not a bad guy. I'm not a hothead because I get techs, and I think that's the message that people want to put across."
Asked if the Magic had made any case to the league office about how they feel Howard has been excessively fouled, Van Gundy said he thinks outside input doesn't carry much weight at the league office.
"This is the system David Stern and his minions like it," Van Gundy said. "So that's the system you have ... I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot or leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him. He decides and he likes the system he has."