Savage: Howard Diagnosed with Herniated Disc in Back

By Dan Savage
April 13, 2012

ORLANDO -- Already battered and beaten, the injury news did not get any better for the Orlando Magic on Friday.

After flying out to Los Angeles to see a specialist (Dr. Robert Watkins), All-Star center Dwight Howard was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his lower back.

His return will depend on how he responds to treatment.

With Howard’s injury and small forward Hedo Turkoglu out for the near future, the Magic’s chances of earning homecourt in the First Round of the playoffs have taken a severe hit.

But the three-time Defensive Player of the Year maintains the important thing right now is just getting healthy.

“The only thing that matters (in the playoffs) is that we’re all healthy,” Howard said on Thursday. “If we’re a healthy team and we’re mentally focused on what we need to do then the seeding doesn’t matter. We just have to all get healthy. We’ve been hit from all different angles this year, but we just have to stay strong and get healthy by the time that the playoffs come. We just need to make a good run in the playoffs.”

While his teammates are eager to have him back, they also realize that being fully intact for the postseason is the primary goal.

"We definitely want him back, but the regular season isn’t that important now," said Magic shooting guard Jason Richardson. "What is important now is the playoffs. We want him out there with us, but it’s more important for him to be healthy by the playoffs."

In order for the Magic to make it through the rest of the regular season, Orlando is well aware that it's going to take an improved effort on both ends of the court.

"We have to have a better mindset going forward," J.J. Redick explained. "No excuses."

It will be essential to have an improved focus on the defensive end as the Magic have allowed teams to shoot over 50 percent in four of the last five games without their All-Star center.

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