Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for publicly saying after Orlando's 112-103 win Thursday night that officials are targeting center Dwight Howard this season.
Less than two minutes into Thursday's game, Howard was assessed his league-leading 12th technical foul of the season for an outburst after he missed a close shot and had the ball bounce out of bounds off his leg. It marked the fourth time in the past five games that the Magic were hit with a tech as part of the league's mandate to aggressively enforce its "respect the game" rules.
"They're [referees] looking for him, there's no question," Van Gundy told the media after the game. "They make a call on him, they're looking to see his reaction. Other guys get away with stuff. He's not going to. He's going to have to accept that. They're looking for him. Every one of them. So that's the way it's going to be."
Howard will be suspended for one game if he gets 16, then an additional game for every two technical fouls after that.
"Why he's been the guy to get all the technicals? I don't know," Van Gundy said. "Other guys get away with stuff. He yelled, 'Damn' after he missed a shot. I guess, 'damn' is a technical and 'bull----' is OK, based on what I saw tonight."
For his part, Howard took the call in stride.
"One year, I'm smiling too much," he said. "Now I'm the bad boy."
But the perennial All-Star did admit that he's been more frustrated than usual this season.
"You guys watch basketball. You guys see a lot of things we can't comment on," Howard told reporters after he finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds and five fouls against the Knicks. "It's very tough not to get frustrated. I want to be as aggressive as I can. I want to be able to use all the gifts God blessed me to play with. Does it get frustrating? Yes. People might not understand it. They might see it as me complaining or arguing. I just want to go out there and play like everybody else."
Information from ESPN.com's Michael Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.