Dwight Howard was fined $35,000 Thursday for his flagrant foul on Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets.
Howard's team was losing Wednesday night in Denver. He was running the floor, and he wasn’t getting touches. Even more, his team could not play defense on the perimeter and could not rotate on the inside. Meanwhile, Faried, a second-year forward out of Moorhead State University, was having a career night jumping, rebounding, and slamming.
Prior to his back surgery, Howard was the best rebounder, jumper, and dunker. On Wednesday night, little-known Faried was dominating everything Howard was famous for. So, Howard got frustrated and decided to take a hard foul and send the message that he had control of the paint.
Howard did not have control of the paint. He was promptly ejected for the frustration foul. From that point forward, he had absolutely no control over the painted area under the basket. He was in the visitors' locker room as the Lakers dropped one.
After the game, Howard did not apologize for the foul, nor did he believe he should have been thrown out of the game.
"It was a hard foul," Howard said. "That’s all I know."
Normally, Howard is the last player to talk to the media because he (supposedly) receives more post-game treatment than any other Laker. This time, he was the first player interviewed.
Howard was ejected with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter, so he had plenty of time to settle his mind and get ready to speak to the media. He knew he would have the ears and eyes of the press, and he announced his message into the voice recorders and cameras.
After he was done speaking about the foul, the subject turned to defense.
Howard started, "Our pick and roll defense wasn’t great tonight. The help wasn’t there. The help the helper wasn’t there. It just has to be better overall."
Then, Howard made a loud and clear statement, "These guys got to be in the right spots. They have to be taught [defense], and it has to be something that you practice on, so guys can understand."
Howard was not finished, "You can’t just talk about defense and talk about where to go. You actually got to show guys where to go."
The message from Howard to his teammates and the coaches is clear: the Lakers need to practice defense. Howard is growing frustrated with his role as the defensive anchor on a team that does not play defense.
After giving up 126 points on Wednesday night, not many people can argue against Howard's suggestion.