A little past the halfway point and Magic fans are resigned to the fact Dwight Howard will miss a game at some point this season because of his accumulation of technical fouls. He has 12 so far this season and has even had four rescinded. That means he would have reached the one-game suspension already.
Considering how thin Orlando is at center (Malik Allen is due back soon, for what that is worth), that could be a pretty big deal. And he would face a suspension every two technical fouls after that. Yeah, this looks like it is going to happen.
But this is also an endemic around the NBA. Looks like the league's "respect for the game" mandate has increased technical fouls all around, not just with Howard. Although, he might be the favorite target.
I mean, look at the video above from the Spurs-Timberwolves game a few weeks ago. It is kind of absolutely ridiculous what some of these calls are.
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports technical fouls have increased 34 percent this year since the league instituted its "respect for the game" standard for issuing technical fouls. More interestingly, Bresnahan also discovers there is a 300 percent increase in rescinded technical fouls. Howard's four is a poster child for that.
Referees have undoubtedly had a ton of latitude to make technical fouls. And the number of rescinded calls this year makes it seem like it is too much. The NBA reviews each technical foul after the fact and makes a final judgment.
Oversight is there, but they don't take those technical foul points away from the game. Orlando would have (theoretically) won Wednesday's game against Philadelphia if Howard's rescinded technical foul were never call.
You can see where the potential problem might be.
Now, as predicted, I believe the technical fouls have slowed down since the beginning of the year. Players have gotten used to the new standards and officials have relaxed those standards.
Howard had eight called from Oct. 29 to Nov. 27. His other eight have come between Dec. 14 and Jan. 19. So even he has slowed down how often he gets called for technical fouls.
Players have adjusted. There is less arguing with officials and less overt demonstration of frustration directed toward referees. In that sense then, the goal of the new rules have worked very effectively. But you still have your questionable calls that make you scratch your head.
I imagine it will continue to be less of a problem as the season moves on. But still the whistles are relatively quick and the standard at some point is going to cost someone a game unfairly. ... Maybe even in the Playoffs.
That would be the disaster scenario. Until then, every time that whistle blows, the ears will perk up waiting for the inevitably questionable technical foul call.