For the first time in this series, the 76ers and Orlando Magic brought the game off the court, too. Tonight, after Orlando's 91-78 Game 5 victory, all kinds of things blew up.
Here's a quick outline: 1.) The Sixers believe Dwight Howard should be getting called for 3-second violations, but isn't. 2.) The Sixers have contacted the NBA about the elbow Howard delivered to the chin of Sixers center Samuel Dalembert. The elbow occured early in the first quarter. Referees hit Howard with a technical foul.
Here's how it unfolded tonight.
Sixers coach Tony DiLeo was the first to the podium for post-game interviews. He gave his initial statement, but quickly things turned to Howard. DiLeo was careful not to actually question the referees, or specifically say that Howard was illegally in the lane, but he repeated himself that Howard spent the entire game in the lane, on offense and defense, and that "he doesn't need any more advantages." When specifically asked if he was saying that Howard should have received more (or any) 3-second violations, DiLeo repeated his previous assertion and then said we should take from that what we will.
Okay, so the Sixers feel Howard has an unfair advantage: Maybe because he is superman Dwight Howard, young star, one of the faces of the NBA.
A few minutes after DiLeo exited stage left, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy entered stage right. Van Gundy walked up the podium and the first thing he said was something to the effect of, "So should I be lobbying the referees instead of talking about the game?" Then Van Gundy, cleared annoyed, went on to say again -- actually, for a few minutes -- that the Sixers should stop complaining about calls, and that Howard is a great player, got his points and rebounds from being great, etc., etc.
The Sixers players seemed to back up their coach, with point guard Andre Miller saying he thought Howard was in the lane too long, but that he's Dwight Howard, so ... Theo Ratliff agreed that Howard was in the lane too long ...
And for the second, and perhaps most important part of this drama: The elbow.
After the game, DiLeo said the Sixers had already contacted the NBA about looking into further punishment for the elbow Howard threw only 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the game. The NBA could fine Howard, could suspend Howard, or could do both.
Dalembert, visibly frustrated after the game, said that if he had thrown the same elbow Howard had thrown, he would have been ejected from the game.
Van Gundy, referring to the inadvertent elbow Howard landed on teammate Courtney Lee in the first half, quipped -- obviously frustrated with the Sixers -- "Yeah, we're going to have the NBA look at Dwight's elbow to Courtney, too."