Dwight Howard suspended one game for swiping referee's arm

ByCalvin Watkins ESPN logo
Tuesday, February 2, 2016

HOUSTON -- The NBA has suspended Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard without pay for Tuesday's game against the Miami Heat for swiping the arm of an official in Saturday's loss to the Washington Wizards.

Also, the league announced that Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was fined $10,000 for his criticism of the officiating in that loss to Washington.

Howard was informed of his suspension during Tuesday's shootaround.

"It's tough, but we got to figure it out," leading scorer James Harden said. "[Backup]Clint [Capela]has to be ready, I think he's dealing with a leg injury [thigh contusion], so we got to figure it out. That's what we've been trying to do all year."

Howard was kicked out after tussling with Wizards center Nenewith 8 minutes, 8 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. After Howard and Nene were tangled up, they pushed each other. Referee Mitchell Ervin extended his arm to keep Howard at bay, but the Rockets center pushed the arm down and walked away as Nene yelled at him. Howard later apologized for pushing the referee's arm down.

The suspension comes after a source told ESPN that the NBA rescinded one of the technicals from Howard's record on Tuesday.Howard now has 11 technicals and is tied with Golden State'sDraymond Greenfor the league lead.

Bickerstaff was fined for his voiced displeasure with how referees handle Howard in the post. The Rockets believe some of the health issues Howard has endured this season -- sore back, nicked-up shoulder and elbow -- are the result of getting pounded in the paint. Howard said his shoulder popped out three times in Saturday's game and that as late as Monday it was still hurting.

Bickerstaff said the officials need to be held accountable for their failures to police the game against what he described as dirty play.

"The rules as they're written are fine," Bickerstaff said Monday. "The big guys should be able to bang and should be able to be physical, there's no problem with that, in my opinion. So that's what the game is about. Everybody says it's not a contact sport, but if you ask any post player, it's a contact sport, and we're OK with that, we're OK with that physicality, it plays at an advantageous for us at times. We're OK with the way the rules are written."

Bickerstaff did say he spoke to Howard about maintaining his composure on the court. He received his first technical foul for putting his hands behindJared Dudley'sneck. Howard said he was trying to demonstrate to the officials what Dudley was doing to him.

While both players were smiling, Howard received the technical. The second technical, which led to the ejection, was Howard being upset with arm bars that were holding him up inside.

"Stay composed knowing what the other team's intentions are and just can't allow little things to agitate me," Howard said after Monday's practice about his conversations with Bickerstaff.

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