Dwight Howard struggling to avoid foul trouble against San Antonio

The sound of a whistle has sent Dwight Howard into a tizzy anytime he posts up or makes a block. The lack of a whistle has prompted to throw a temper anytime Howard absorbs more contact on his torn labrum in his right shoulder or when multiple defenders front him inside.

The Lakers faced plenty of frustration in their 120-89 Game 3 loss Friday to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. The game marked the Lakers’ largest margin of defeat in playoff history. The outcome pushed the Lakers into an 0-3 deficit and likely elimination since no NBA opponent has overcome such an obstacle in a best-of-seven playoff series. And for Howard, the game provided a never-ending reminder that he can neither avoid foul trouble nor receive the officials’ support.

Howard’s 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting and 11 rebounds could hardly overcome the five fouls he received against San Antonio.

“I don’t know what I need to do,” said Howard. “I’m out there just being physical.”

Yet, that tactic hasn’t worked.

He’s averaged five fouls call per game in this series. Among Howard’s 15 fouls, he’s committed five offensive fouls and five on loose balls. Howard’s also collected two technicals in the past two contests. The early foul trouble has prompted Lakers coach Mike D”Antoni to take Howard out to conserve him, only to see the Spurs widen their lead.

The physical play hasn’t just frustrated Howard on the court. It’s affected him off of it. He accused the Spurs’ frontline of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter of flopping in Game 2. Before Game 3, Howard watched replays of his offensive fouls and asked this reporter what he thought. The replays showed the foul calls weren’t warranted.

“I guess they did what they had to do,” Howard said. “We just have to come back and be physical with them. That’s what we have to do next game.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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