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NBA comes down hard on Dwight Howard and J.B. Bickerstaff

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Dwight Howard's technical fouls result in suspension and fine for Bickerstaff.

Howard receives a one game suspension while Bickerstaff gets a $10k fine.
Howard receives a one game suspension while Bickerstaff gets a $10k fine.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In a bar fight, the vast majority of participants never understand or ask for the rational cause behind the scrum. They jump in following an ethos of "get your bro's back." Or something.

The Houston Rockets and the NBA both adopted that ethos in the last week and it's costing Dwight Howard a one-game suspension and landed J.B. Bickerstaff a fine of $10,000 out of what we assume, but has never been reported, is a salary commensurate with his title of interim head coach.

Dwight Howard's frustration with a middling season and non-existent defensive effort has helped contribute to two straight ejections. Each comes with a legitimate level of dispute and crowing about poor refereeing, but a veteran player like Howard should be familiar with where the boundaries are and how important his presence is to the team. His ejection against Washignton may have cost Houston the game and his suspension for Tuesday night's game against Miami assures Hassan Whiteside (if he plays) a 15-rebound night and a deluge of uncontested Miami shots.

The suspension isn't drawn from the tussle Howard engaged in with Nene or even the subsequent push that mirrored the ejection Howard received for shoving Steven Adams in a loss to Oklahoma City. Howard is going to sit a game because he made clear intentional contact with a referee following his tussle with Nene. Much like leaving the bench area during an on-court scuffle, making intentional physical contact with a referee is off-limits and has immediate, automatic consequences.

Meanwhile, Bickerstaff was a leading force in criticism of the refereeing in the one-point loss to the Washington Wizards and the previous loss to Oklahoma City. Against Washington, Bickerstaff himself received a technical foul for comments made to a referee after sprinting past half-court to get a timeout called in the waning moments of the game. The Wizards made the late-game technical foul shot and the Rockets lost by a single point.

There's a lot of blame to be passed around here. The Rockets responded to the poor officiating by launching a quixotic bid to have all four of Dwight Howard's technical fouls rescinded. This act was likely more to promote better relations between the front office and players than to actually get the fouls removed. With the Rockets going all in on their dispute, the league went all in on theirs.

Sometimes when people start throwing down it doesn't matter if you're the team or the league. You gotta "get your bro's back." Or something.

***UPDATE***

Dwight Howard's first technical foul against the Washington Wizards has been rescinded according to Johanthan Feigen. This is important because it puts Dwight's technical foul total at 11 on the season. The league's "Rasheed Wallace rule" curtails technical foul accumulation by suspending a player a single game when they reach 15 technical fouls on the season. Players then miss an additional game for each two technical fouls. A pattern plucked from soccer's card accumulation rules.

Watch the play where Dwight gets fouled from behind by Jared Dudley. Then receives a technical foul while pleading to the referee for a flagrant foul and placing his own hands over Dudley's shoulders as a demonstration after the play. H/T Reddit