Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Howard crowned NBA’s defensive player of the year

AP , ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard holds up his trophy after being named NBA defensive player of the year in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard is the NBA’s defensive player of the year after becoming only the fifth player to lead the league in blocks and rebounds in the same season.

The announcement was made on Tuesday.

Howard received 542 points, including 105 first-place votes from a panel of 119 writers and broadcasters. Cleveland’s LeBron James was second with 148 points and Miami’s Dwyane Wade finished third with 90 points.

The 23-year-old Howard is the youngest player to win the award.

He led the Magic to 59 wins in the regular season, one shy of tying the best record in franchise history set in the 1995-1996 season.

Orlando trails Philadelphia 1-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

Howard averaged 13.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game this season, his fifth in the league.

The only other players to be rebounding and blocks champions in the regular season were Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ben Wallace. Blocks were not kept as an official statistic until 1973.

“To be the defensive player of the year at 23 is remarkable,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “To be a great defensive player usually comes later in a career. And he still has so much room for improvement.”

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