Magic-Jazz Preview

If the Orlando Magic are going to make a deep postseason run,

they’ll have to do so without Dwight Howard.

Simply qualifying for the playoffs is the first step for the

Utah Jazz.

Orlando will play its first game since receiving the news that

Howard won’t play again until next season when it visits Utah on

Saturday night.

Howard’s bad back requires surgery that will keep him out of the

lineup through the postseason and this summer’s Olympics, meaning

Orlando (36-26) must continue pushing forward without its

superstar.

The Magic fell to 3-5 without Howard after a 102-98 loss to

Boston on Wednesday. Glen Davis scored 27 points and Jameer Nelson

added 21 for Orlando, which also has played the last seven without

Hedo Turkoglu after he had surgery to repair three facial

fractures.

The Magic, sixth in the Eastern Conference with a playoff berth

clinched, play three of their final four regular-season games on

the road.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said the team is rallying around each other

down the stretch.

“What we’re saying right now is that this is our team in the

regular season and in the playoffs,” Van Gundy told the team’s

official website. “This is the team that we have and we have to do

the things that allow this team to play well. It’s made us have to

make some changes and made us strong but our group has been focused

on making the adjustments we have to make to be good together.”

Davis, averaging 18.2 points and 9.9 rebounds in nine games

since becoming a starter, said the effort was there Wednesday

despite falling behind by as many as 13 points.

“There’s been multiple games where we’ve been down and we just

went away,” Davis said. “I like how we fought today but, at the end

of the day, we need to win the game.”

Victories are much more important for Utah during the stretch

run.

The Jazz (33-30) are tied with Phoenix for the Western

Conference’s final playoff spot, and they’ll host the Suns on

Tuesday.

Utah is coming off back-to-back victories, beating Dallas in

triple-overtime on Monday before a 112-91 victory at Portland on

Wednesday. The starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Gordon

Hayward combined for 97 points and 18 3-pointers in those wins.

“We feel great. We’re in the mix,” coach Tyrone Corbin said.

“We’re just going to continue to take care of our business. We

can’t afford to watch and see what anybody else is doing. We’ve got

to make sure we win our games and whatever happens from there on

happens.”

Utah will play its remaining three games at home, where it is

10-2 since the All-Star break with the only losses coming by a

combined three points. Only one of its eight home defeats this

season was by more than five points.

“We’ve got three games at home where we play well,” said Harris,

averaging 25.3 points in his last three home games. “We’ve put

ourselves in a nice position but we’ve still got to go out and play

the games.”

The Jazz have won 11 of the last 15 home meetings with the

Magic. These teams haven’t met since Orlando’s 117-105 loss in Utah

on Dec. 10, 2010.

Hayward had 23 points and shot 8 for 11 from the field

Wednesday, and he’s averaging 20.2 points while shooting 63.6

percent from 3-point range over his last five games.