Cody Zeller Embarrasses Dwight Howard on Huge Dunk, So Dwight Elbows Him in the Face

By 

(Photo: Getty Images)

We're on the record as pretty excited for a Dwight Howard resurgence with the Atlanta Hawks.

But after his actions against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, the joy of an appreciated, winning Howard got pretty sapped. And it cost his team the game.

The pair of second-tier Eastern Conference elites played evenly through the halfway point of the third quarter. Atlanta was having trouble containing the footspeed of big man Cody Zeller, who enjoyed a career night mostly on the strength of a surgical performance as the roll man in pick-and-rolls with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum.

One such foray resulted in a huge dunk that cut a Hawks lead to one and resulted in Zeller's feet swinging over and glancing Howard's head.

Whether Zeller's post-dunk contact was intentional or not, Howard's retatliation a quarter later was uncalled for.

While the big men competed for a rebound, Howard elbowed Zeller square in the face.

The center was awarded a flagrant-2 and ejected from the game. The Hornets scored the next nine points and won 100-96 thanks to a game-finishing dunk on yet another Zeller pick-and-roll finish.

"It wasn't like I tried to hit him in the face, but my job is to protect my house—at all costs," said Howard, who scored 10 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.

Okay, Dwight.

Okay.

Zeller finished with 23 points, tying a career high, on 9-of-10 shooting. Despite averaging fewer minutes per game this season than in the prior two (23.5), he's enjoying career highs in points (11.7) and blocks (1.2).