Howard picks up 5th technical

Orlando's Dwight Howard picked up his fifth technical foul of the playoffs in Sunday night's Game 3 win over Cleveland, tying him with Kobe Bryant for the league lead and leaving Howard just two technicals shy of a one-game suspension.

Players who reach the five-T barrier in the playoffs receive a warning letter from the league office, with one-game suspensions assessed after the seventh technical and every other one thereafter (ninth, 11th, 13th, etc.).

Howard was called for pushing Ben Wallace underneath in the third quarter, and upset with the whistle, he said something on his way to the bench that referee Joey Crawford didn't like and was T'd up. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy had warned his star to keep his composure so as not to risk a suspension.

"I didn't say anything to Joey Crawford," Howard said. "The response was to the other team. I didn't say anything to Joey Crawford. I'm not stupid enough to get in his face and say anything, so I try to keep it to the other team."

Denver's Kenyon Martin has also been hit with five technicals this postseason, but his past three technicals were rescinded by the league, putting Martin officially at two. Two of Martin's technicals in Denver's second-round series with Dallas were wiped away -- one of them when a Game 1 hit on Dirk Nowitzki was upgraded from a technical foul to a flagrant foul. Also, double technicals Martin and L.A.'s Pau Gasol were assessed in Game 2 were rescinded.

Bryant has actually rung up six technicals this postseason, but one of his Ts was also rescinded. After collecting No. 5 in the first game of the Western Conference finals against the Nuggets -- with potentially 13 games left in his season at that point -- Bryant vowed: "I won't get another one."

Other players besides Howard and Bryant who have to be mindful of their T count include Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu (four), Denver's Carmelo Anthony (three) and the Lakers' Lamar Odom (three).

Howard was already forced to a serve a one-game suspension in the first round against Philadelphia after elbowing Sixers center Samuel Dalembert, but Orlando won Game 6 on the road without him to eliminate Philly.

Now, Howard's on thin ice, but the win is what interested him.

"We just kept fighting. That's what we got to do, we fight to the end," Howard said. "We can't worry about nothing, we can't worry about the calls, can't worry about nobody else. We just got to get out there and play."

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.