SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Could Dwight Howard be going from Superman to super sub?
The All-Star center missed the first game of his career Saturday night, and coach Stan Van Gundy joked he might not get his starting spot back after the Orlando Magic used a dominating third quarter to beat the Utah Jazz 103-94.
“We don’t know if we’re going to go back to Dwight as our starter or not,” Van Gundy said with a smile, a verbal tip-of-the-cap to Howard’s replacement, Marcin Gortat.
Howard injured his left knee in Friday’s loss at Phoenix and is listed as day-to-day. The winner of last season’s All-Star slam dunk contest, when he donned a Superman cape for one dunk, had played in 351 consecutive games since he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2004.
Gortat scored just four points and committed five fouls, but Van Gundy was quick to point out his four blocked shots and three offensive rebounds.
The Magic outscored Utah 34-12 in the third quarter, after trailing by 10 at halftime.
“We outplayed them like crazy in the second half,” said Magic guard Jameer Nelson, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the period.
Orlando opened the third with a 16-1 run and the spurt stretched to 26-5 on Nelson’s 3-pointer with 3:31 remaining.
“That third quarter was tremendous,” Van Gundy said. “I’m proud of our team and this was one of the best wins I’ve ever been a part of.”
“We’re up 10 and then they close it up in about two minutes,” Williams said. “They came out, wanted it more and they had more energy and more life. They’re tough with Howard in there, but they’re also tough without him.”
The Jazz fell to 10-4 at EnergySolutions Arena, matching their total of home losses from last season, when they went 37-4. Utah shot just 3-of-15 from the field in the pivotal third quarter and finished 33-of-76 (43 percent) for the game.
“We took some bad shots and they made some shots,” Jazz forward C.J. Miles said. “They went on a run and we couldn’t get back at them.”
Utah narrowed a 15-point deficit to just five with 3 minutes to go, but could get no closer. Orlando made 14 3-pointers and topped the 100-point mark for the third consecutive game.
Van Gundy said he implored his low post players—Lewis, Turkoglu and Gortat — to rebound in the second half. The trio was held without a defensive rebound in the first half, but finished with 10 in the game.
“They were killing us on the glass all night long,” Lewis said. “Coach told us at halftime we’ve got to pick it up.”
Lewis delivered the play of the game when he leaped high for an offensive rebound and slammed it to help quash Utah’s fourth-quarter rally.
It was one of nine rebounds for Lewis, who helped make up for the missing Howard. Van Gundy said his All-Star center would be evaluated before Orlando’s next game Monday at Golden State.< Notes:@ Jazz shooting guard Morris Almond made the first start of his career in place of Ronnie Brewer, who was attending his aunt’s funeral. Almond scored five points. … Utah power forward Carlos Boozer missed his 13th straight game with a strained left quad. He hasn’t played since Nov. 19 against Milwaukee. … Utah fell to 10-3 when leading at halftime.