Denton's Notebook: February 27, 2011

By John Denton
February 27, 2011

ORLANDO – There is little dispute that Orlando Magic superstar center Dwight Howard swung his arm back in retaliation upon being fouled last Friday night against Oklahoma City, but it’s the actions leading up to that foul and technical foul that coach Stan Van Gundy wants the NBA to take into consideration.

Upon getting whacked by Nick Collison, Howard flailed his hand backward and grazed the face of the Thunder center. Referee Monty McCutchen whistled Howard for his 15th technical foul of the season, one shy of the threshold to trigger a NBA-mandated one-game suspension and a $5,000 fine.

Van Gundy was upset that Howard was hit hard several times before the incident and was held after the whistle by Oklahoma City big men determined to not let the Magic star continue to score. Howard had done a better job of limiting his verbal criticisms of the officials of late, but was clearly frustrated by the hits on Friday and responded with a swipe.

``He swung his arm, but we’ll see. It was a lot of stuff after the whistle and it gets frustrating,’’ Van Gundy said. ``Dwight’s been great lately and he’s hasn’t said much to the referees. This wasn’t even a situation where he said anything to the referees; it was after the play and they were grabbing his arm and who knows he might have been trying to get it free. But he’s been very, very good for the last three weeks. So he’s trying to make adjustments.’’

Van Gundy thinks the NBA league office, which has rescinded four of Howard’s technical fouls and might revoke Friday’s, needs to take a closer look at the hard fouls that are given out and ultimately lead to the frustration of a player like Howard to boil over. ``Baiting’’ Howard into frustration moments has almost become a tactic of foes, Van Gundy said.

``An unintended consequence of the rule is that you get some of these guys who don’t play many minutes or have the importance to their team. If they can go out and instigate and get into a deal with a great player and bait them into a double technical then they win,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I’d like to see them pay more attention to guys like that.’’

OPPORTUNITY FOR EARL: Earl Clark played sparingly in Phoenix as a rookie and earlier this season and didn’t know what to make of his chances of seeing playing time when he was traded from the Suns to the Magic.

Not only has Clark become a member of the Magic’s regular rotation, but he was used on Friday night defensively on the NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant. Van Gundy feels that Anthony has the potential to be a defensive ace against bigger small forwards and smaller power forwards because of his ability to move his feet and contest shots with his 6-foot-10 length.

``This is my chance to show them that if they put me on the best guy from the other team that I can slow them down,’’ Clark said. ``The way I see it I can guard (small forwards) and (power forwards). Really, defense comes easy to me because I’ve got quick feet and long arms.’’

CHANGES: Things have certainly changed quite a bit for Orlando and Charlotte since the last time the two teams played one another on Nov. 6 in Charlotte.

Four of the Magic’s five starters that night – Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon – have since been traded away or benched. Three other Magic reserves in that games – Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and Jason Williams – are no longer with the team.

Gerald Wallace and Nazr Mohammed have since been traded from the Bobcats.

ETC: When Gilbert Arenas drilled a 3-pointer to open Sunday’s second quarter it snapped a streak of 18 consecutive misses from beyond the arc. Arenas had gone seven games without a make from beyond the 3-point stripe. He entered Sunday’s game having made just three of his previous 38 tries from 3-point range. … Charlotte head coach Paul Silas is back in the NBA and he’s noticeably lighter. Under doctor’s orders, he lost 55 pounds. … Bobcats owner Michael Jordan sat courtside for the game and the fans inside the Amway Center let out a cheer when he was shown chatting with former Magic great Nick Anderson. The two are forever linked for Anderson’s steal of Jordan in the 1995 playoffs to secure a Magic victory. … Jordan was joined courtside by sons Jeff and Marcus Jordan and A.J. Rompza. All three play basketball for UCF and Marcus Jordan and Rompza – the best of friends – were involved in a dramatic play Saturday night. Rompza hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds to play off a feed from Jordan, a sophomore guard. … The Magic’s next three games are marquee matchups. Orlando hosts Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and the New York Knicks on Tuesday, plays in Miami on Thursday and is back at home Friday against the Chicago Bulls and leading MVP candidate Derrick Rose.

John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at