Is Dwight Howard Getting a Raw Deal from NBA Referees?

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 18:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a shot over Hamed Haddadi #98 of the Phoenix Suns during the first half of the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 18, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dwight Howard scored just 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the 99-76 loss to the Phoenix Suns as the Suns galloped away from the Lakers in the fourth quarter with a frustrated Dwight Howard getting no calls.

We tend to see it every day. A bigger guy gets the ball fed to him in the post, and because he is so big, the same amount of contact that would warrant a foul on a smaller player leads to idle whistles from the referees.

The bigger, stronger and harder it is to move a player, the more he has to be visibly disturbed to earn a foul call.

It's just something that comes with the territory.

Howard seemed to think that Monday's game against the Suns was an excessively physical game, especially when you consider that he only took five free throws (Via Dave McMenamin):

A lot of stuff happened in the paint. For me, I just got to do my best and not say anything to the refs. I know it’s hard, but I’ll continue to talk to myself and push myself to leave the referees alone and hopefully they might look down there a couple times. But until then, I just got to keep fighting through it. If I don’t get a call, just keep going back down there and do the same thing.

Just continue to play through fouls. There was a lot of times where they were intentionally trying to foul and they weren’t called. They even said it, ‘I fouled the crap out of you on that play,’ and we’d just laugh about it. But there’s nothing I can do but try not to say anything to the referees and just play through it.

Howard has come to expect a certain amount of contact over the course of this season as he's been intentionally fouled to send him to the free-throw line quite a bit this year.

He's a poor free throw shooter, so when he claims that players were telling him that they were intentionally trying to foul him, it's not that far-fetched. 

Mike D'Antoni's look into the game gave a bit more insight as to why Howard was left hanging on so many foul calls against Phoenix:

I just think he kind of took it personal and tried to go at them and we need to do more pick-and-rolls, roll him into the post, get him out on the move to get the ball into him. We just kind of, because I think we’re tired, we just kind of got stuck in mud and tried to wrestle our way through it and it didn’t work and it didn’t look good either.

Watching the Los Angeles offense stagnate at times totally backs this up. They're at their best running the Steve Nash-Howard pick-and-roll (at least without Kobe Bryant), and when they don't it devolves into an inside-outside game surrounding Howard.

When that happens, the offense slows down and Howard plants himself just outside the paint. When he initiates his offense that close to the basket, there's less movement in the play and therefore less visible disruption when Howard gets fouled.

Most important to understand with Howard getting beat up in the paint is just that this is the way it's always been.

Howard is actually shooting more free throws per field goal attempt this season compared to last season by almost a full free throw attempt more per 10 field goal attempts (8.67 in 2013 vs. 7.87 in 2012).

So is Howard getting a raw deal? Not really, and definitely not compared to previous seasons. He's simply getting the deal that big guys get in the NBA.

Complaining about fouls and exaggerating contact has never really been something Howard has done in the past. He may complain a bit on the floor, but he's never been one to take it past the actual games.

That's something he should continue. Basketball is just different if you're a big dude, and he's going to have games like this where he gets pummeled and gets no calls, it's just the way the game breaks.