NBA notebook

Howard suspended for elbowing Dalembert

Associated Press / April 30, 2009
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Dwight Howard's elbow has given the Orlando Magic's playoff hopes a major hit.

Howard has been suspended for tonight's Game 6 of the Magic's series against the Philadelphia 76ers for his elbow on Sixers center Samuel Dalembert, the NBA announced yesterday.

The two got tangled up going for a rebound in the first quarter of Game 5 Tuesday night. Replays showed Howard threw an elbow that hit Dalembert above the shoulders. Howard drew a technical foul for the hit.

"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."

Stu Jackson, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, said Howard would have been ejected from the game if any of the referees had seen him make contact with his target. Jackson said the contact was clear on replay.

"They saw the elbow thrown but they couldn't determine whether or not the elbow actually made contact with Dalembert," Jackson said. "This was an elbow that was thrown that made contact above the shoulders and by rule there's an automatic suspension."

Orlando will also be without starting guard Courtney Lee, who suffered a fractured sinus after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head from Howard later in the quarter. Lee's status for the remainder of the playoffs is uncertain.

The Magic lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2. Orlando will likely start Marcin Gortat in place of Howard, and J.J. Redick for Lee.

It worked out
Celtics coach Doc Rivers on the Bulls' final possession of overtime in Tuesday's Game 5, when Kendrick Perkins left his defensive assignment, Brad Miller, to guard Ben Gordon. Miller got the ball, was fouled hard on a drive by Rajon Rondo, and missed the free throws:

"We clearly didn't want Perk trailing Gordon. Even if Gordon had got it, I didn't like that matchup, I can tell you that. But sometimes you overhelp because you want to do something good, and that's basically what happened.

"The intensity, I don't know if it can get any higher. Our focus, clearly, on that last play was to stop Gordon. And so, we kind of lost focus, in some ways. We had blinders to Gordon, and we forgot about Brad Miller. I was hoping he didn't drive. I was hoping he didn't know he was that open. Again, I don't think Rondo fouled him to hurt him, or anything like that. I thought Rondo clearly was trying to go for [the ball]. He was reaching to grab whatever he could grab. Brad Miller clearly wants to make a big deal of that - we'll let him."

Series of thoughts
Ray Allen said the Celtics' sense of purpose is embodied in their approach to the next game. "That's everything that we believe in," he said. "We rely on home court, but if we can go on their floor and close it out, that's what we want to do." Said Rivers: "I'm going to look back and say this is a hellish series - win or lose. This has been a brutal series, not only the intensity, just the manpower that we have or don't have, has made this very, very difficult." . . . An NBA official said Rondo's foul on Miller stands as is. There was some concern that Rondo could be assessed a flagrant foul after the fact. That means no fine, suspension, or even flagrant foul points that could lead to a suspension if they accumulate.

Frank Dell'Apa of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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