Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy alleged Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood punched Dwight Howard in the back during Orlando's loss to Dallas on Friday and sent footage of the incident to the league office to review, but as Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas reports, citing "a league source," the league has decided not to punish Haywood.
Howard, a six-time All-Star and Orlando's leader in per-game scoring and rebounding, missed Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets due to back spasms which Van Gundy blamed on Haywood's overly physical play. After Friday's game, Van Gundy called the alleged punching "ridiculous" and said "Haywood just punched him literally with a closed fist right in the back."
Van Gundy declined to specify when the incident occurred. According to Caplan, "the Mavs' staff has scoured the game film and found no evidence of a punch being thrown."
The league's ruling likely won't surprise Van Gundy. As Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel notes, "Van Gundy didn't sound optimistic that anything would come from [the video review]" when asked about it prior to Sunday's loss.
Otis Smith, the Magic's President of Basketball Operations, has told Orlando Pinstriped Post previously it is generally not Magic policy to send film to the league office for review. That Van Gundy elected to do so in this case suggests he found the play particularly egregious. The NBA, based on its ruling, simply does not agree.
Howard traveled with the Magic to Michigan, where they'll play the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, but it's unclear if he'll be able to play.