The Orlando Magic may be without franchise center Dwight Howard for tonight's game against the Detroit Pistons, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel via his Twitter account. The Magic have listed Howard as "doubtful" to play tonight due to a stomach ailment. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson "is 50-50" with the same malady, says Robbins.
Stomach issues cost the Magic two wing players in their last outing, a 107-78 win over the Chicago Bulls. J.J. Redick missed the entire game and stayed behind at the team hotel, while Mickael Pietrus left the game after 11 minutes due to discomfort and reportedly vomited in a United Center hallway. Pietrus is expected to play tonight, says Robbins.
Howard is among the league's most durable players, having appeared in 507 of a possible 510 regular-season games in his six-plus seasons. Should he miss the game, Marcin Gortat will most assuredly get the start. In his three career starts, Gortat has averaged 10 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots. In his lone playoff start, which a suspension to Howard necessitated, Gortat posted 11 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Chris Duhon could fill in for Nelson in the starting five. In his two starts this season, Duhon has contributed an average of 4 points and 6.5 assists. The Magic signed him this summer in part due to his competency as a spot-starter; prior to this season, the former second-round draft choice had started 296 times in 446 career appearances.
Orlando defeated Detroit, 90-79, on Monday, but it required terrific second-half defense--which Howard anchored--and six fourth-quarter three-pointers. Detroit figures to pose even more of a threat on its home court, so the Magic could be in for a fight tonight.