Dwight Howard has already gotten the benefit of the doubt from the league office once during these Western Conference finals. If the Houston Rockets are able to once again stave off elimination on Wednesday, he’ll need the NBA’s disciplinarians to smile upon him one more time to allow him to suit up for Friday’s Game 6 back in Houston.
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Howard was allowed to suit up for Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors after the NBA elected not to elevate the flagrant foul-1 he received for hitting Warriors center Andrew Bogut in the face during Houston’s Game 4 win to a flagrant-2, which would have earned him a one-game suspension that would have kept him out of the Rockets lineup on Wednesday. But with 3:20 remaining in the first half of Game 5, referee Ed Malloy slapped Howard and Bogut with a double technical for some pushing, shoving and jawing:
There doesn’t seem like a whole lot of “there” there, but the repercussions could be massive. That was Howard’s seventh technical foul of the postseason, which, by league rule, carries with it a one-game suspension (and a $5,000 fine).
If the Rockets force a Game 6, then, Howard will be in line to miss it. Considering how well he’s played in this series, and how exceptional he looked as a rim protector and board crasher early in Game 5, that would, of course, be a major blow to the Rockets’ chances of becoming just the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after having lost the first three games of a playoff series.
The league office could, however, elect to rescind the tech upon further review come Thursday, which would keep the Rockets center in the mix. There’ll certainly be no shortage of storylines to discuss if the Rockets are able to scratch out a win in Oracle Arena on Wednesday, but if they’re able to push through to a Game 6, this figures to be one of the biggest. (And, in the interest of covering our bases, if Golden State closes out and the league lets the T stand, then Howard will reoprtedly miss the first game of next season.)
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