Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Orlando Magic will host the Detroit Pistons on Monday without superstar center Dwight Howard, who battled through back spasms to play in Orlando's last two games, but did so "at a personal price," coach Stan Van Gundy said. As John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reports, Howard's back has gotten worse, and as a result he will sit out until at least Friday's crucial matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, whom Orlando is battling for playoff positioning, to allow it to heal. He will also miss Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards.
He was in a lot of pain and I've never seen him like that during a game, practice, or anything," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who has played alongside Howard since 2004, their rookie season with Orlando, said Monday. "It was inspiring to see somebody playing with that much pain on their face. It make you want to run through a wall for him."
Howard scored 20 points and hauled in 22 rebounds in Saturday's victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, which ended Orlando's five-game losing skid. Van Gundy said Howard's back made it difficult for him to even sit normally during breaks in play.
Howard joins Hedo Turkoglu (facial fractures) among Magic starters out against Detroit. Power forward Ryan Anderson, who has missed the Magic's last three games due to a sprained right ankle, is expected to return to the starting five Monday. Glen Davis will start in Howard's place. In his last four games, all starts for either Anderson or Howard, Davis has averaged 21.8 points and 11.3 rebounds on 47.8 percent shooting.
Reserve small forward Quentin Richardson, who has also battled back pain in recent days, is also expected to be available against Detroit.