Posted on: March 29, 2011 1:43 am
Edited on: March 29, 2011 1:46 am

Howard fouls out vs. Knicks, picks up 17th tech

Dwight Howard picked up his sixth foul against the Knicks Monday night on a questionable call and then picked up his seventeenth technical. Was it a phantom call?
Posted by Matt Moore

You know, if Dwight Howard's going to pick up technicals, he really should try to at least get his money's worth and pick it up while he's still actually in the game. 

With 1:20 left in overtime of the Magic's loss to the Knicks Monday night, Jason Richardson launched a corner three. Dwight Howard smartly maneuvered to the far side to attempt to grab the offensive rebound. Chauncey Billups and Amar'e Stoudemire positioned on either side of him. Howard, being significantly taller and longer than both players, tapped the ball up in the air, and after contact from all three players, Howard grabbed the rebound to allow the Magic another chance to tie or take the lead. But then, tweet. An offensive foul, Howard's sixth. After the foul, Howard objected to the call (shocking, I know), with an expletive, and then threw the ball across court. And again, tweet. Howard's seventeenth technical of the season, bringing him within one more T of his second suspension from technicals this season. So what gives? Was Howard right to contest the foul? Let's take a look. 

Okay, a lot of contact there. Let's take a look at a few key frames. First, here's what happened on the way up for the tap: 

First thing you'll notice is Chauncey Billups' contact on Howard's outstretched arm. That's pretty clearly a foul. Unfortunately, you'll notice Howard also placing contact on Stoudemire, partially inhibiting Howard's ability to reach up to contest for the rebound. But you could definitely argue that nothing should have been called from that image. What about on the way down? 

Okay, well, Billups is definitely holding Dwight a bit there, or at least is making contact. Unfortunately, you see that tangle of limbs and goggles caving in and falling backwards? Yeah, that's Amar'e Stoudemire, caving under Howard's arm coming down. That's pretty obviously a foul. But hey, maybe it just looks that way from this angle. What about another angle? Zach Harper of ESPN provides a little clearer view of what was going on down there from another broadcast angle. 

You can definitely argue that Howard is being fouled simultaneously by Chauncey Billups. But you can't argue that that's not a foul on Howard for shoving Stoudemire in the face, just as you can't argue that MVP's should be picking up technicals which can result in suspensions during the stretch run to the playoffs, just as you can't argue Howard should be surprised at this point by either the officials' calls or their reaction to his protests over their calls. 

It wasn't a phantom foul. Stan Van Gundy and Howard have a legitimate case that Howard doesn't get the calls he should during the game, but it's impossible to argue that Howard didn't commit a foul on this play. A tough break for the Magic on a night full of them. 

For more on the Knicks' win over the Magic, check out Ken Berger's report on how Melo took the Knicks out of their misery. 
Posted on: December 14, 2010 3:15 pm

Derrick Rose and the cult of contact

Posted by Matt Moore

It began with this, from John Hollinger at ESPN: 

Derrick Rose doesn't draw fouls. That's about all the negativity I can muster toward him in an impressive first quarter of the season, yet it remains an important distinction in evaluating his place among the league's elite.
via Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose not yet an elite point guard - ESPN.

Then Bulls blog Bulls By The Horns chimed in:
No matter what some people say — that Rose doesn’t draw contact on his many drives to the basket — Derrick gets hit. Often. It’s just that, unlike most NBA players, he doesn’t flail or flop or scream when it happens. That fact, more so than his ability to absorb the blows and finish anyway, is what has prevented him from making more trips to the line.
via Game 23 Recap: Bulls 92, Pacers 73 » By The Horns.
Finally, Zach Lowe of SI delved deeper: 

But if Rose’s usage rate and free-throw numbers stay at their current rates, he’d become only the sixth player in three decades (since the introduction of the three-point line) to post a usage rate greater than 30 percent while attempting fewer than five foul shots per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.* The others: Ben Gordon, Chris Webber, Vince Carter, Baron Davis and journeyman Freeman Williams, who did it while playing for the Clippers in 1979-80.
via The Point Forward » Posts Why does Rose rarely get to free-throw line? «.

The debate revolves around whether Rose is bad at drawing freebies because he's not getting the calls for some reason, or whether he has issues with contact. Hollinger doesn't believe that Rose, a star the league is very much marketing towards in a major market, isn't lacking for the benefit of the doubt with the officials. Bulls by the Horns' Matt McHale on the other hand thinks that Rose's stoic handling of contact doesn't afford him the same results do to his lack of theatrics. So what's the answer? 

Watching Rose from an outside perspective, I've always been struck by his ability to avoid getting ensnared in collapsing interior defense. He weaves through contact and that's what allows him to create amazing shots off the high glass. But he does lean away from contact. He doesn't lean away from contact the way Vince Carter shies away from contact, he simply anticipates the hit and works to create space for his shot. That's an incredible skill. It also doesn't get him to the line. 

Following up on the data Lowe presented, Synergy Sports pegs Rose as the 40th best player with at least 50 possession in the pick and roll at drawing fouls. In isolation, he's 42nd among players with 50 possessions at drawing a shooting foul, and 27th in getting any free throws period. That's worse than Brandon Roy, who has no meniscus. He's also posting a 30+ usage rate, fifth best in the league. This isn't to say that he's not making the most of his usage, he is. He's brilliant. That three pointer which has so often flagged off and held him in check? It's falling, and in key situations. His jumper's still a work in progress but it's forgivable when you examine his ability to get to the rim. Quite simply, he's an elite player in every category except drawing fouls. And that category is one in which he is so bad it does impact his status. I won't go so far as to say he's not elite. He is. But he needs to learn to get those fouls, and that may mean absorbing more contact. 

Then again, Dwyane Wade absorbs a ton of contact and has his entire career. He's also missed hundreds of games due to injury. 

Maybe if we consider that something has to suffer for a player to be great, drawing contact is an acceptable limitation.
Category: NBA
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