Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard sat out the team's Saturday practice due to a sore back, reports John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, leaving his status for Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets "uncertain." According to Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, "it would have to be pretty bad to keep him out because the guy shows up every night." Now in his eighth NBA season, Howard has missed just five games due to injury. Denton says Howard planned to visit a back specialist Saturday night.
Van Gundy claimed the soreness in Howard's lower back stems from several closed-fist hits Howard took from Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood in Orlando's loss to the defending NBA champions on Friday. "Haywood just punched him literally with a closed fist right in the back," Van Gundy said. The Orlando coach said he plans to send video of the hits in question to the league office.
Elsewhere on the injury front, backup big man Glen Davis missed Saturday's practice due to a strained hamstring he suffered Friday morning. The injury limited him to 6:40 against Dallas, exactly eight fewer minutes than he logged in his previous season-low. With Davis hurting, Van Gundy called on Earl Clark for 13:43, and the third-year forward responded with four points and seven rebounds.
Orlando hosts Denver on Sunday hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak.