Ed. note: OPP community member magicfaninTN has really outdone himself with this thorough examination of Dwight Howard's many technical fouls. As such, I've promoted it to the frontpage. - BQR
As a part of the lively discussion in the post, Off-Day Open Thread: Should the Orlando Magic Curb Their Complaining to Referees?, I started to wonder if there was a trend in Dwight's technical fouls. Do they hurt the team by taking Dwight out of his game? Do they lead to momentum swings for the other team? Are they linked to frustration with early foul trouble? Missed free throws? Repeated no-calls?
Technical foul situations do not make it into the boxscore. There is no single good place that I could find online that lists the technical foul information all in one place. So, I did the grunt work of cobbling the following tables together by using the boxscores at YahooSports, the play-by-play info at ESPN, and either the Associated Press or Orlando Pinstriped Post recaps. Remember, I didn't watch a lot of these games (and even if I did, that's a long time ago), so in a lot of cases I'm guessing the reason by looking through the events of the play-by-play. Feel free to offer corrections in the comments if you remember the game.
I didn't take the time to look up which of these techs have been rescinded, but since Dwight's official count is 15 (rather than the 17 I have listed), at least two were withdrawn by the NBA. I'm more interested in the situations that lead to them getting called in the first place.
Analysis follows the tables.
Techs #1-8 (click for full-size image)
Techs #9-17 (click for full-size image)
- Dwight got these fouls facing 15 different teams.
- 10 called in wins. 7 called in losses.
- But in the wins, the game is almost always still in doubt/closely-contested at the time Dwight gets the tech.
- 4 called in 1st half. 13 called in 2nd half or overtime (9 in 3Q, 3 in 4Q, 1 in OT).
- No ejections. This shows that he can control it at some level.
- Dwight is an emotional and intense player; a competitor (despite what many on-air commentators say about his smile). Dwight is also very vocal with his responses to adversity. Strong? Yes. Strong and silent? Not so much.
- From my reading of the play-by-play, it seems the techs neither led to any significant/game-changing momentum swings nor put key points on the scoreboard for the opponent due to the technical free throws.
- In my opinion, by the time Dwight gets a T, he's already mentally off his game/out-of-sync. In some sense this question is a little chicken-and-the-eggish. Personally,I think Dwight gets frustrated and then gets the techs. But, I think previous bad/questionable calls are a part of what gets Dwight frustrated.
- If you work through the play-by-play, it seems that frustration builds up and then finally erupts from Dwight. Several things usually "go wrong" in a row. It appears to be the same kinds of things that frustrate you as a fan or if you've ever been on the court: missed field goals, missed free throws, a few perceived no-calls, not calling it the same way on both ends, lead slipping away, etc
Four frequent situations that seem to lead to technical fouls for Dwight:
A. Game is on the line or Orlando is losing. All of them except #9, 12 & 14 (where Orlando had sizeable leads). Dwight wants to win. Don't let the smile fool you.
(Some might say the Lakers game (tech #15) is an exception, too, since Orlando was up by 7 points, but that was the game that was so intense between Kobe and Matt Barnes. And, Barnes had already drawn the double-tech a few minutes earlier. Emotions were still hot and this was last year's Finals rematch...in the 3Q, the game is always still on the line against the Lakers.)
B. Dwight got in EARLY foul trouble and had to sit? Often though, he does not voice that frustration until the 2nd half when the whistle once again blows at him. Dwight wants to compete. Don't let the smile fool you.
- #2 - Just under 17 minutes of floor time for the game.
- #3 - Glued to the bench with fouls again. 2nd night in a row.
- #4 - First two fouls came in first 6:02 of 1Q.
- #9 - Sat almost 2/3 of 2nd quarter then comes in and nothing works.
- #14 - Two fouls in first 22 seconds of the game.
C. Dwight gets in LATE foul trouble and is in danger of disqualification. Usually combined with situation A--the game is on the line. Remember, more than 3/4 of Dwight's techs come in the 2nd half of contested games. Again, Dwight wants to compete. Don't let the smile fool you.
- #2 - PF #5 is an offensive foul. (Dwight eventually fouls out in this loss.)
- #13 - PF #5 in a very physical game .
- #16 - Losing to Bobcats at home. Gets offensive foul and PF#4.
- #17 - OT versus the Heat. Gets PF #5
D. Just tired of getting whacked by the opponent without getting a whistle. Probably all 17 could apply here, but among these five are some times that Howard drew the foul that preceded the tech, rather than committing the preceding personal foul.
- #5 - Seems to be complaining about a lack of a call after missed shots.
- #6 - Hard foul by Troy Murphy.
- #8 - [partially] If I recall correctly, Bosh and Bargs had been swinging hard.
- #11 - Fouled by Rudy Gay.
- #15 - No call on the layup?
#1 seemed to just be Dwight giving Speights a little trash talk. Really a waste considering the number of techs Dwight has racked up during the rest of the season.
It seems that perceived injustice in the calls and high intensity (especially when losing) are the situations in which Dwight opens his mouth and draws the technical foul. This is a concern for the playoffs where intensity will be super-high and the refs can too often make a mess of the game.
However, Dwight has shown that he can control himself; remember no ejections. Let's hope that the increased intensity also means that Dwight is more focused on keeping the emotional fire from burning out of control. He has to remember how much the team needs him on the floor. Work the refs. Maintain control.