There’s just something about Dwight Powell’s face. Well, not just his face–his entire head. We’re not talking about his looks or his smarts–he went to Stanford, you know. For some reason, his head draws a significant amount of adverse physical attention every game.
Perhaps more than any other player in the NBA, Powell takes blow after blow to his noggin when he’s on the floor. Often, the referees swallow their whistles. Powell got popped again Friday night in the Dallas Mavericks’ 113-100 win over the Houston Rockets. This time, though, the contact was enough to draw a foul.
“I think he finally got the call today,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “He normally doesn’t get them. They always call common foul, and I know he doesn’t think it’s common to be able to take an elbow to the jaw. I thought today was the right call.
“He does tend to get hit in the face a lot of times, which I would be a little bit more upset if they were all just common fouls because anything to the head looks like a flagrant foul or should be a flagrant foul. I think he’s got to be cautious because he does get hit a lot there.”
With 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, and the Mavericks leading 106-92, Powell received a pass from Spencer Dinwiddie and drove to the rim. He went up and converted a layup. In the process, the Rockets’ Bruno Fernando walloped Powell across the face with his right arm, sending Powell to the floor hard.
After an official review, the referees assessed Fernando with a flagrant foul, type one. Powell converted the free throw. While the contact on this play was violent, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for Powell. He took blows all night.
“They weren’t bad tonight,” Powell said. “I’ve had far worse that weren’t called. I survived.”
He may have had worse but opponents hitting him in the head is a recurring theme for Powell. It isn’t just him and his coach taking notice. Fans post about it on social media when it happens. Even his All-Star teammate, Luka Doncic, noted the regularity.
“I think it’s more than once per game,” Doncic said. “I think it’s crazy. He gets hit every game at least once.”
Against the Rockets, the officials took notice and Powell was able to capitalize on the contract he drew. That is not always the case. However, it highlighted the physicality of the game and what Powell endures on a nightly basis while rim-running and patrolling the paint.
The shots Powell has taken throughout his career have certainly taken a toll on him. His head might as well be a magnet for abuse at this point. Yet, he remains in high spirits, taking everything in stride.
“I’ve lost this tooth a couple of times,” Powell said, pointing to one of his incisors after the game. “It happens. It’s part of the game I think, especially at my position. You play hard, guys on the other side are playing hard. It happens. I’m still here, so I’m grateful.”