Howard now referred to as 'Foul on You'
You can call him "Foul on You."
"That's my new nickname. They've been killing me all day calling me 'Foul on You,' " Howard said of his teammates after shootaround Monday before their playoff game against Charlotte. "So I've accepted my new role."
The teasing stems from the four-time All-Star being called for 16 fouls in the first three games against the Bobcats, who have used three centers to frustrate him.
Howard fouled out with 3:32 left in Game 3 on Saturday, but the Magic still rallied to win to take a 3-0 series lead despite Howard playing just over 82 of a possible 144 minutes.
"My teammates say when we wrestle I shouldn't use 100 percent of my strength. They said I should use 50 or 40 percent," said Howard, smiling. "So that's been the main focus today, using 40 percent of my strength to hold guys off."
Coach Stan Van Gundy was a little more serious, knowing the Magic can't afford Howard sitting on the bench later in the playoffs. He showed Howard video on Sunday of his frustration elbows and shoves that have put him in chronic foul trouble.
"We watched, I think, nine clips, maybe 10 clips, just trying to get an understanding of what's going and what their strategy is in the whole thing," Van Gundy said. "He's a very smart guy, but you're in very difficult, very physical situations out there. He's got to take a lot of hits and a lot of grabbing and holding. Obviously, he has to handle that in the right way."
Maybe levity will help. As teammates and others shouted "Foul on You" at the end of Monday morning's workout, Howard raised his arm and clenched his fist to mimic a referee's foul signal.
Forward Mickael Pietrus then walked by with some advice.
"Maybe you need your own whistle," he said.
Earlier, Howard indicated he was going to walk back to their nearby hotel because he might be whistled for a foul on the team bus.
"It's been frustrating, but everything happens for a reason. That's the only way I look at it," said Howard, who has 18 blocks in the series. "Maybe this situation has to happen for me and my teammates. We're just looking at all the positive things that can come out of this situation."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press