Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor helped lead the New Orleans Hornets past Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic 92-89 in overtime on Wednesday night; in particular, Paul, Okafor and Howard were involved in a single play that helped affect the game. Unfortunately, a referee was also involved.
Howard was called for a technical foul with two minutes, 20 seconds left in the game. "Dwight Howard should really not be barking at the officials in the closing minutes of a game," you say. But he was not barking. "Dwight Howard should really keep his elbows and fists to himself in the closing minutes of a game," you implore. But he was not swinging. John Hollinger explains:
After a missed shot ended with his arm tucked under Emeka Okafor's, Howard began to run upcourt and swung his arm to shake free of Okafor. It was a relatively innocuous play, but he was slapped with a tech by referee Steve Javie ... who was standing roughly 50 feet away at the time, while two officials much closer to the action declined to call anything.
"Steve said he swiped him across the belly," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Those guys had been tangled up all night. It was an interesting call, let's just say that."
There's currently no video evidence of the call; Howard has received reprieve from the league a few times already this season, and we could very well see another rescission on this technical foul. Of course, that doesn't help the fact that it cost the Magic a valuable point as Paul sunk the free throw.
As Orlando Pinstriped Post notes, Howard's teammates missed 50 shots; as such, the two critical free throws Dwight missed in overtime shouldn't take center stage in postgame evaluation. The Magic's nine-game winning streak was snapped with the loss, as Orlando missed a great opportunity to make up a game on the Chicago Bulls (who also lost).