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Dwight Howard caught using stickum, says “It’s not a big deal. I ain’t tripping.”

It was vintage Dwight Howard: Do something a little bit silly on the court, make it worse with his comments after the game.

With 3:36 left in the first quarter, Howard checked back into the game between Paul Millsap free throws. What you can’t see in the video above but can in others is Howard goes to his spot on the low block, asks the referee if he can get a feel for the ball (a common request by players), the referee lets Howard rub his hands on the ball, takes it back and bounces it to Millsap.

Millsap quickly feels the ball is sticky, gets a perplexed look on his face, and throws it back to the official. The referees talk, decide there is a foreign substance on the ball, and then proceed to warn both benches that nobody can go Lester Hayes here — stickum is illegal in the NBA. I’ll let Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tell the story from there.

“I’ve never felt the ball like that ever,” Millsap said after the game. “It was sticky. It was like super glue or something was on there. I couldn’t get it off my hands. It was the weirdest thing ever.”

Official Monty McCutchen grabbed the ball and went to each bench to issue a warning, saying ‘Stickum is illegal in the NBA.’ After first going to the Hawks bench he made his way toward the Rockets bench. Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff slid in front of the can, still at the scorer’s table. McCutchen noted he knew what Bickerstaff was hiding.

Howard was caught, although no penalty was called on the play because of it. The spray can — which had been wrapped in tape, hiding its contents — disappeared from the scorer’s table and was not seen again.

After the game, Howard decided to dig the hole deeper.

The NBA will investigate this, although most likely what comes of it is a memo to teams not to use the stuff. If Howard is using the spray substance (and we know he is), it’s unlikely he’s the only NBA player doing it. Referees will be watching for it now.

Sticky ball or not, the Hawks went on to win the game 109-97.