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News » Howard's suspension leaves super hole for Magic

Howard's suspension leaves super hole for Magic

Howard's suspension leaves super hole for Magic
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Dwight Howard will have plenty of elbow room wherever he watches Game 6.

Howard could stretch out in his hotel room and click on the TV. He could watch Orlando play Philadelphia from a restaurant or catch updates on a hand-held device.

What Howard won't do Thursday night is play. Orlando's "Superman" has been grounded.

Howard was suspended one game by the NBA on Wednesday for his elbow on Sixers center Samuel Dalembert in Orlando's Game 5 victory.

The two tangled going for a rebound in the first quarter and Howard whacked Dalembert on the left side of the face. Howard drew a technical foul for the hit.

Howard said in a statement on Wednesday he was disappointed, but respected, the league's decision.

"I have complete faith in my teammates that they will come out and get the job done tomorrow night," he said.

The Magic lead the Sixers 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Howard had posted on his blog before the NBA handed down the decision that he wasn't trying to hurt Dalembert.

"I think everybody knows how I play basketball," Howard wrote. "I'm just out there trying to win. ... I think when the league looks at the total picture of what's happened throughout this series that they will understand it's a physical game down in the paint."

Ask Magic guard Courtney Lee about the impact of Howard's physical play. Lee suffered a fractured sinus after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from Howard in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Lee's out for Game 6.

No Howard. No Lee. Can the teams just move ahead to Game 7 already?

"What upset me the most on Tuesday was accidentally hurting my man, C-Lee," Howard wrote on his blog.

Howard is having the best playoff series of his career and has been the only consistent Magic player in the postseason. He had 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds in Tuesday's win, and he's averaged 24 points and 15.8 rebounds in the series.

Howard wrote in his blog that Sixers forward Reggie Evans approached him after Game 5 and said he would ask Philadelphia team president Ed Stefanski to suggest to the league they not suspend the Magic center. Evans denied through a team spokesman on Wednesday making the statement.

Howard's absence could be super, man, for the 76ers' chances.

Coach Tony DiLeo uncharacteristically groused after the 91-78 loss that Howard lives in the 3-second lane on offense and defense. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy defended Howard and objected to DiLeo lobbying for calls in a news conference.

DiLeo refused to address the matter on Wednesday when the Sixers practiced before they knew of Howard's punishment.

Not Dalembert. The Sixers center complained of a headache.

"What he did was unsportsmanship," he said. "Once in a while, you're playing hard and things might happen. I got two. There was a first elbow and the second elbow coming after that. One of them hit me."

Like most players on the trailing side of a series, Dalembert said the refs have two sets of rules: One for Howard and another for everyone else. Dalembert suggested he would have been tossed had he elbowed Howard.

"I'd probably get a banana boat and go back home to Haiti," he said. "It's nothing personally against Dwight. He was frustrated. I should have been frustrated. We can't even guard him. You take a block - foul. You do this - it's a foul. We deal with it. We don't complain."

That sounded a lot like a complaint. So were DiLeo's objections to the perceived non-calls against Howard in the 3-second lane.

Orlando likely will start Marcin Gortat in place of Howard, and J.J. Redick for Lee.

"I've got be aggressive now," Redick said. "They played off Courtney. It seems like they're still not really guarding the point guard or the two guard."

The Sixers realize Howard and Lee's absence gives them a fantastic opportunity to force a Game 7 and take their chances in Orlando, where they won Game 1.

"Regardless who's out there, we've got to go out there and win," Sixers guard Andre Iguodala said.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009


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