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Dwight Howard's Technical Fouls Have Him on Brink of Suspension

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Dwight Howard earned his 15th technical foul of the season in the Orlando Magic's rousing 111-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last Friday night, drawing him ever closer to a one-game suspension, per league rules. Further, after reaching 16 technicals, he'll receive a one-game suspension for every two technicals he receives thereafter. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, via Twitter, says the league reviewed the 15th tech and determined it'll stand. After a hard foul from the Thunder's Nick Collison, Howard reached out and swatted Collison in the face; based on the replay, it'd be hard to argue the swipe was unintentional on Howard's part.

The Magic, as covered on this site ad infinitum, are short on centers. Should Howard earn a suspension, one presumes Brandon Bass would get the start at center, with Ryan Anderson lining up at power forward, and the deep-bench combination of Earl Clark and Malik Allen getting mop-up minutes behind those two. That'd make the Magic's lives hard for one game, but it's important to remember the technical count resets in the playoffs--players can pick up 5 technicals before the suspension kicks in--so there's little chance Howard would endanger the team by missing a postseason contest.

At his current rate of one technical every 143 minutes, and his post-trades average of 38 minutes per game, Howard is on pace to pick up his 16th technical in the next three to four games. Were that projection to prove accurate, he would miss either Monday's visit to the Portland Trail Blazers or Wednesday's contest against the Sacramento Kings. At the conclusion of the 2010 calendar year, Howard averaged a technical every 91.3 minutes, so he's improved dramatically here.

Notably, Howard ended the last regular season with 14 straight games without officials whistling him for a technical foul, and thus avoided a suspension.

Brian Serra of Magic Basketball Online has compiled a list of all Howard's technicals this season, including those the league rescinded. It's a handy resource, and also--to a degree--illustrates the capriciousness of the technical foul. After all, were it called fairly and correctly, the league would not have seen it fit to rescind four already.