- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has the backstory on Dwight Howard’s back troubles: “Howard missed games on April 1 and April 3 because of his back problems, but then he played two more games, including on April 7, aggravating his back in the process. Five days later, he practiced with the team and once again aggravated the injury. That’s when he went to Watkins for a second opinion.”
- Orlando Magic team doctor Craig Mintzer and Dr. Robert Watkins agreed that surgery was necessary for Dwight to repair a herniated disk in his lower back.
- It’s also been reported by Robbins that Hedo Turkoglu is not expected to return for the playoffs. Turkoglu is still trying to recover after undergoing surgery to repair facial fractures.
- With Dwight out for the rest of the regular season, that means other players for the Magic will have to step up in his absence. Like Jameer Nelson.
- Orlando’s hope of making noise in the postseason has been dashed now that Dwight is done for the year. Right now, the Magic are projected to face the Indiana Pacers in the first round. With Dwight, an upset series win was a strong possibility against the Pacers. That would have given Orlando a crack, likely, with the Miami Heat in the Semifinals. And given that the Magic have proven they can compete against the Heat, it would have been an interesting series to see unfold. Not anymore.
- Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated with a must-read report on the current state of Dwight and Orlando: “Some within the Magic thought Howard was exaggerating his back problems earlier this month. They thought it was a power play by a player who over the last eight years has been given nothing but power. It turns out it wasn’t, that Howard’s back was worse than anyone really knew.”
- Lost in all the noise — Dwight will miss the 2012 Summer Olympics, too. Who will replace Dwight as the starting center of the Olympic team for Team USA?
- Despite Dwight’s season-ending injury, the Magic are still in line for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
- Dwight tried to rest and rehab his injury, but it didn’t work.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
I don’t think anybody saw this being the end of the saga.
Just a day ago, I — like many of you, I’m sure — assumed that Dwight Howard’s “back” was just a synonym for a host of other maladies that were not exactly a physician’s concern. Just a day ago, in fact, I was starting to reconsider my status as a Dwight apologist. Increasingly, the defenses of Dwight I’d mounted seemed thinner and thinner as his behavior became more and more childish and narcissistic.
With the news coming on Thursday that Howard is hanging it up for the season to have a herniated disc repaired in his back, I figured it was time to offer a few thoughts.
First, and most obviously, spinal discs have no character. We can safely put to rest the ideas that Dwight was malingering on account of some beef with the organization or with Stan Van Gundy. He may in fact be beefing and he may in fact have been refusing to play for the rest of the season regardless, but that’s not where we are.
Unfortunately for the player and perhaps fortunately for his image, Howard has a serious medical condition that neither he nor any self-respecting medical professional would fake so as to make any kind of point. So in a certain way, this injury allows Howard to pre-empt any further rumors which might have damaged his career every bit as much as a protracted recovery.
- With Dwight Howard out, the Orlando Magic have struggled to defend as a team in his absence. Last night’s game against the Boston Celtics was the latest example for the Magic. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has more: “Boston shot 54.3 percent overall, the sixth time in Orlando’s eight games without Howard that Magic opponents have made at least 50.0 percent of their shots.”
- According to a report, Dwight told owner Rich DeVos that he no longer wants to play for head coach Stan Van Gundy. Asked by the Sentinel about alleged rumor, Van Gundy says he has “no comment.”
- Is Dwight really that much of a liability for Orlando in crunch time? Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm reveals an eye-opening stat that conflicts with conventional wisdom: “With Dwight on the court in the clutch [this season], the Magic have scored a whopping 119.4 points per 100 possessions, and have given up only 92.9, and have gone 17-10.”
- ESPN.com: “Magic center Dwight Howard has called team owner Rich DeVos to tell him that he won’t play for coach Stan Van Gundy anymore, WKMG in Orlando reported. But multiple league sources directly affiliated with the Magic and Howard disputed the television report to ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace.”
- Perhaps it’s time for Ish Smith to take over as the back-up point guard for the Magic.
- Van Gundy is the most disliked head coach in the NBA according to a Sports Illustrated players poll.
- Orlando showed fight in their loss to the Celtics in yesterday’s game.
- After the news broke that Dwight no longer wants to play for Van Gundy, there have been multiple media outlets that have refuted the story.
- The Magic couldn’t handle “The Truth” last night.
- Holly MacKenzie of CourtVision: “None of this is surprising, but it’s pretty shocking how this season has played out for the Magic. From Howard wanting out, to him wanting to stay, to the strangest NBA practice scrum to ever be caught on tape, the Magic have been a sideshow all season.”
- It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Orlando all season long.
- What will it take for the Magic to clinch the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference? Two wins, most likely.
- Conflicting reports, the latest being that Dwight will no longer play for Van Gundy, have become the norm for Orlando this season.
- Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “The Howard saga has already reached nearly unprecedented levels of absurdity, even for a world as ridiculous as the NBA.”
- Without Dwight available to play in the playoffs, the Magic have little chance of advancing past the first round. It remains to be seen if Dwight will be able to come back from injury in time for the postseason.
- In a game that was lacking a little bit in star power, Boston prevailed against Orlando.
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
The Orlando Magic played a hard-fought game against the Boston Celtics but came up short, losing 102-98.
With the score at 98-96 and the Celtics trying to hold on for the victory, after Glen Davis stole a pass from Avery Bradley and converted a dunk on the previous possession to make it a one-possession game for the Magic, Paul Pierce made a clutch jumper on the next trip down that essentially won the game.
After Davis’ dunk, head coach Doc Rivers wisely didn’t call a timeout so that he didn’t allow head coach Stan Van Gundy to set up Orlando’s defense and possibly adjust the personnel on the floor to best prepare for whatever play Boston was going to run.
Instead, the Celtics put the ball in Pierce’s hands and let him go to work. Boston ran a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Pierce and Garnett, The Magic switched on the play, which meant that instead of Quentin Richardson guarding Pierce, it was Davis that had to try and stop him. Davis hounded Pierce on the right wing. And with Pierce stumbling momentarily, almost losing control of the basketball, as well as the shot clock winding down, it seemed like Orlando was going to get the stop that they needed.
Unfortunately for the Magic, Pierce regained his footing, went to his left while simultaneously creating room for himself, and made a free-throw line extended jumper off the dribble with Davis unable to contest the shot.
If you’ve watched Pierce play over the years, you’ll know that’s probably his favorite shot to go to in crunch time.
After Jameer Nelson made a floater off the dribble to cut the deficit back to two points for Orlando on the ensuing possession, Pierce made two free-throws to ice the game.
Crazy as it may sound, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the Magic lost to Boston — again. Why?
With the loss, Orlando remains 1 game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 36-26. When you consider that the Hawks swept the season series and own the tiebreaker, the Magic are actually 2 games back of Atlanta for the No. 5 seed.
Consider this question: if you’re Orlando, who would you rather face in the first round of the playoffs? The Indiana Pacers or Celtics?
Although the Pacers are 40-22, have won 15 of their last 19 games, and all but locked up the No. 3 seed in the East, the Magic are capable of springing a first round upset against Indiana as opposed to Boston. Especially if Dwight Howard is available to play in the postseason (Hedo Turkoglu is expected to be back in time for the playoffs). The NBA is all about matchups and Orlando matches up favorably with the Pacers.
If you like to look farther ahead, not only would the Magic draw Indiana in the first round as a No. 6 seed but the Miami Heat loom on that side of the playoff bracket, too. If Orlando were able to get past the Pacers, there’s no question they would have a puncher’s chance against the Heat. But again, that is contingent on Dwight being healthy and able to play.
If Dwight is unable to play in the postseason, then throw out all the hypotheticals out the window.
However, it’s still intriguing to think about.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Pierce is a proverbial Magic killer. It’s no surprise, then, that he put up a career-high 14 assists to go along with his 29 points (9-for-14 shooting from the floor and 11-for-12 shooting from the free-throw line) and five rebounds.
In his second game back in Boston this season, Davis had a much better game compared to his first go-around. In fact, he was tremendous and helped keep Orlando in striking distance throughout the game.
That Was … Predictable
The Magic played with as much energy and effort as humanly possible against the Celtics. That garnered praise from Van Gundy after the game. Nevertheless, it still wasn’t enough to beat Boston.
- Teams: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics
- Date: Apr. 18, 2012
- Time: 8:00 p.m.
- Television: ESPN
- Arena: TD Garden
- Magic: 36-25
- Celtics: 36-26
- Jameer Nelson
- J.J. Redick
- Jason Richardson
- Ryan Anderson
- Glen Davis
- Avery Bradley
- Sasha Pavlovic
- Paul Pierce
- Brandon Bass
- Kevin Garnett
- Pace: 89.2 (27th of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 105.1 (15th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 103.3 (12th of 30)
- Pace: 90.3 (21st of 30)
- Offensive Rating: 101.2 (27th of 30)
- Defensive Rating: 98.7 (2nd of 30)