- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
The NBA announced Wednesday that it has rescinded Howard's sixth technical foul of the playoffs, which he was given for taunting Anderson Varejao after a layup in the third quarter of the Magic's 116-114 overtime victory Tuesday night. Cleveland's forward had draped his arms around Howard in a failed attempt to stop him from scoring.
Howard's total of technicals for the postseason is thus back down to five. Players receive a one-game suspension after reaching seven technical fouls and further one-game suspensions for every other technical thereafter.
Howard and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy expressed hope after Tuesday night's win -- which gave Orlando a 3-1 lead over the heavily favored Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals -- that the technical would be rescinded. They argued that Howard was unfairly punished for celebrating his layup after being wrapped up by Varejao and eventually forcing the ball in with his strength.
"I wasn't taunting Varejao or anything," Howard said after the game. "My thing, it was a tough play. He grabbed me around the neck and I made the shot."
This was one of several technical fouls revoked by the league office this postseason. Denver's Kenyon Martin is the most prominent example, with three of his six playoff technicals rescinded already.
Even with the NBA's call to rescind the foul, Howard remains perilously close to a suspension, tied with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers for the league lead. Howard has made numerous cracks about needing "duct tape" over his mouth to get through the rest of the playoffs.
"I might have to get some duct tape for real," Howard said after Game 4.
Howard was forced to serve a one-game suspension in the first round after slamming an elbow into Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert, but Orlando managed to finish off the Sixers without him in a Game 6 road win.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
4dEthan Sherwood Strauss
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com