How best for opposing defenders to contend with the ridiculously strong, skilled (and patriotic!) Dwight Howard?  To hear the Orlando F and head coach Stan Van Gundy tell their side of it, assault with intent to maim has become the preferred method.  From Florida Today’s John Denton :

In recent games, he’s been jerked down to the floor by his shoulders by Los Angeles’ Zach Randolph and Chicago’s Andres Nocioni. And the goonish tactics by Magloire in Orlando’s 86-76 defeat of Miami on Friday night tested Howard’s restraints.

“It’s tough because sometimes I want to retaliate but that’s not a good thing for me to do for our team,” said Howard. “I just have to find other ways to pay teams back. It’s getting frustrating every night getting hit and pulled on. I’m just trying to take it in stride and keep playing.”

The Magic are trying to do the fighting for their franchise center. Knowing that Howard can’t afford to pick up flagrant and technical fouls, Magic general manager Otis Smith has repeatedly called the NBA league office to complain about the hits that just keep on coming. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t held back discussing the fouls where Howard is getting hit in the shoulder, neck and head. And Van Gundy didn’t pull any punches when describing Magloire’s tackle of Howard from Friday night.

“Magloire’s job is to beat on people and he’s not in there because of his offensive skill,” Van Gundy said. “He’s like those guys in hockey who come in and beat people up. Some of those guys can’t skate, but they have a role. Jamaal Magloire has a role and that role is to beat the hell out of people.”

Paul Laus, while not available for comment, probably doesn’t speak to Stan Van Gundy that often, either. The Magic lost to Toronto earlier today, 108-102, with 19 of Howard’s 39 points coming from the foul line.