The NBA has suspended Orlando center Dwight Howard for Thursday's Game 6 against the Sixers for an elbow to the head of Samuel Dalembert. The suspension is without pay.
Howard, the Magic center, hit Dalembert, the Sixers center, with 9:15 remaining in the first period of Orlando’s 91-78 victory over the 76ers in Game 5 last night.
"I'm very disappointed but I have to respect the NBA's decision," Howard said in a statement. "I didn't intend to hurt anyone. I have complete faith in my teammates that they will come out and get the job done tomorrow night."
Howard was assessed a technial foul, although the rules stipulate that an elbow delivered above the shoulders includes an ejection.
The Sixers alerted the league to the situation last night. Commissioner David Stern was in attendance at Amway Arena.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told Orlando reporters that he had not decided if Marcin Gortat or Tony Battie will start for Howard. Asked if he thought the league would suspend Howard after he watched the video, "No, I didn't. I didn't really have any idea what they might do."
"I don't have any big reaction," Van Gundy said. "They give you the news and you have to prepare your team to go without him. You just move on."
Magic guard Courtney Lee will miss Game 6 with a fractured sinus, the result of an inadvertent elbow from teammate Dwight Howard, who was attempting to block a shot by the Sixers' Willie Green.
Veteran guard Anthony Johnspn would seem the likely replacement for Lee in the starting lineup.
Van Gundy said he didn't know if Courtney Lee could play a possible Game 7. Regarding Lee, he said: "It's been that kind of season, what can I tell you."
Also, game time for Thursday's Game 6 at the Wachovia Center has been set for 7:30 p.m.