NBA Saturday: Dwight Howard Out for Season?
Dwight Howard spent Thursday afternoon trying to relieve the pain in his back. The Orlando Magic center tried several forms of treatment at his house, including hours of massage therapy, but nothing would dull the pain. The 26-year-old knew his back wasn’t right and wanted a second medical opinion.
Howard woke up early on Friday morning and flew to Los Angeles with Magic physical therapist Ed Manalo. He was evaluated by a back specialist, who diagnosed Howard with a herniated disk. Howard has been advised to rest for 10-15 days, which means he could miss the remainder of the regular season.
Even if Howard takes two weeks off, there’s no guarantee that he’ll feel better by the time the NBA playoffs begin on April 28. Herniated disks are serious injuries that can take a long time to heal. Baron Davis sat out 31 games this season with a herniated disk in his back and that was after receiving treatment during the offseason and lockout.
This is the first significant injury of Howard’s career. The injury occurred against the Dallas Mavericks on March 30, when Howard was battling in the paint against Brendan Haywood. As Haywood tried to get position down low, he made contact with Howard’s back and the center says he hasn’t been right since. He has already missed five games due to the injury and the Magic have struggled in his absence. The team has gone 1-4 during the stretch, losing games by an average of 11.5 points.
Seldom-used Daniel Orton is the only other center on Orlando’s roster. The Magic had been starting Glen Davis at the five, but that was supposed to be a short-term fix until Howard was healthy enough to play.
The Magic currently hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve now dropped seven of their last ten games. It would take an enormous collapse for Orlando to miss the playoffs, but they could slide to the eighth seed. The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers are just three games behind the Magic in the standings.
Orlando has seven games remaining on the schedule, five of which are on the road. They face four playoff teams – the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies – during that stretch.
Howard will continue to be evaluated by team doctors during the final weeks of the season. Whether or not he’ll be available for the playoffs remains to be seen, but it seems likely that he’ll miss the rest of Orlando’s regular season as he rests and receives treatment.
Brandon Roy May Make Comeback: When Brandon Roy announced his retirement in December, Jamal Crawford was stunned. The two guards have been best friends for years after meeting as teenagers in Seattle. While Crawford knew all about Roy’s knee injuries, he didn’t think the 27-year-old would be forced to walk away from the game, especially considering how great he looked all summer.
Crawford and Roy trained together during the offseason and spoke on a daily basis. Roy lacked cartilage between the bones in both of his knees, but he was looking good and dominating pick-up games.
“It was so weird for us when Brandon said that he was going to retire because he had looked so good in the summer,” Crawford told HOOPSWORLD. “If you just walked into the gym and hadn’t heard anything about his knees, you would’ve said, ‘I see why he’s a three-time All-Star.’ He looked that good.”
When the lockout ended, Roy reported to the Portland Trail Blazers and took a physical with team doctors. They warned him that his knees would only get worse, possibly affecting his quality of life. While Roy felt like he could still play at an NBA-level, he didn’t walk to spend the rest of his life struggling to walk or unable to play with his children. He retired right before the Blazers started training camp.
“When it came time for him to take his physical, we were all shocked,” Crawford said. “We couldn’t physically see inside of his knees, we just saw him working out and playing well. When he told us that he was going to retire, it was pretty surprising.”
In recent months, Roy has returned to the court. He is working out and rumors of an NBA comeback have already started to surface. Sources close to Roy say that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to the NBA next season. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Crawford won’t be surprised if Roy decides to unretired.
“I know that he still loves the game,” Crawford said. “I know that he’s still working out and playing. I would never say never. Brandon is still a young guy. He’s only 27 years old. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come back. You never know.”
Injury Update: Coming to the end of this condensed season, the injuries are adding up. Here is the latest on several injured players.
• Golden State Warriors forward David Lee is out indefinitely with a strained groin and stress reaction. He underwent an MRI this on Friday and was told by team doctors that he should not play until he is fully healed, otherwise he would risk causing further substantial injury. Lee will continue to travel with the team to receive treatment from the Warriors’ training staff and be evaluated by team doctors.
• Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani will miss the remainder of the 2011-12 season. He left Sunday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to left calf tightness. Based on tests taken on his left calf and the reoccurrence of previous symptoms, Bargnani will be sidelined to eliminate any further substantial injury.
• Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant has now missed four consecutive games with a sore left shin. Bryant may also miss Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers have gone 3-1 during Bryant’s absence.