Dwight Howard Wins NBA's Defensive Player Award
Howard, 24, led the NBA in blocked shots (2.78), rebounding (13.2) and field goal percentage (.612). It was the first time in NBA history that anyone has led in all three categories. It also was the first time anyone led in both blocked shots and rebounding for two consecutive seasons.
The timing of the announcement -- scheduled for 2 p.m. today -- certainly was appropriate because Howard dominated defensively Sunday in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats. He had nine blocked shots, just one shy of the single-game playoff record.
He already was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week four times this season. This was the fifth consecutive season in which he recorded at least 1,000 rebounds.
His defensive dominance is the biggest reason the Magic have become one of the NBA's elite teams, reaching the NBA Finals in 2009. Since joining the Magic for the 2004-05 season, he has blocked three or more shots 162 times. The Magic have won 113 of those games.
His ability to dominate a game also made him a legitimate candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award. LeBron James of Cleveland is expected to be the runaway winner, but Howard could finish as high as second.
The Magic, who won 59 games this season, are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will play Game 2 Wednesday against Charlotte.
Update 2:12 pm: Howard was officially named the winner, receiving 576 points and 110 of 122 first-place votes from a panel of media members and broadcasters. Josh Smith finished second with 136 votes, while Gerald Wallace finished third with 113. Players were awarded five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second and one point for a third.