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Howard's season ends with surgery

Magic center Dwight Howard will have season-ending surgery this morning to repair a herniated disk in his lower back and will not play this postseason, the team confirmed Thursday night.

"I tried to play through it, and it just made my back worse," said Howard, who has had back problems since early March.

Howard said he can start rehab right away and be back to full contact in four months, "so I'm not really concerned. If anything, I'll come back stronger."

Howard has missed six straight games and eight overall. The Magic is 3-5 without him.

The surgery also means he will not participate in the Summer Olympics in July.

Before the announcement, Orlando's WKMG-TV reported that Howard told owner Rich DeVos last Friday that he didn't want to play for coach Stan Van Gundy anymore. WKMG sports director David Pingalore reported that Howard was upset that Van Gundy publicly said Howard wants him fired.

Heat topples Bulls

MIAMI — LeBron James had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 18 and the Heat tightened up the Eastern Conference playoff race by beating the Bulls 83-72 in a scuffle-filled game Thursday night.

"A physical Eastern Conference game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's an emotional game, a passionate game."

Mario Chalmers scored 16 and Udonis Haslem had 10 rebounds for Miami, which held the Bulls to a season-low point total and moved within 1½ games of Chicago in the East race.

Chicago (47-16) has games with Dallas, Indiana and Cleveland left, while Miami (45-17) has matchups with Washington (twice), Houston and Boston.

John Lucas scored 16 for Chicago, which was without guard Derrick Rose (right foot, 26th missed game this season). Joakim Noah scored 15, Luol Deng added 11 and Carlos Boozer had 10 for the Bulls, who split four games with Miami this season.

Rose remains day to day. He seems likely to return for the final two regular-season games next week, playing more to regain his timing and rhythm than with the goal of winning.

The teams combined for four technicals, two flagrant fouls and James Jones was ejected for excessive contact against Noah.

game highlights: Danny Granger scored 29 as the host Pacers beat the Bucks 118-109 to clinch homecourt in the first round. In the fourth quarter, Milwaukee's Mike Dunleavy fell onto Tyler Hansbrough and they had to be separated. Dunleavy broke Hansbrough's nose on March 24.

around the league: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said he is ready to return tonight against the Spurs (9:30, ESPN), adding that he will play the whole game if that is needed. Los Angeles was 5-2 while he was out with a bruised left shin. … Blazers president Larry Miller said the team has not asked the Lakers for permission to talk to GM Mitch Kupchak. ESPN reported that Portland wants to interview Kupchak for its GM job.

Heat 83, Bulls 72

CHICAGO (72): Deng 5-15 1-4 11, Boozer 4-11 2-2 10, Noah 5-5 5-6 15, Watson 0-3 2-2 2, Hamilton 1-6 4-5 6, Gibson 4-6 1-1 9, Lucas 5-16 4-4 16, Asik 0-0 0-2 0, Brewer 1-6 1-2 3, Korver 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-70 20-28 72.

MIAMI (83): L.James 8-18 10-12 27, Haslem 3-9 0-0 6, Pittman 2-4 0-0 4, Chalmers 7-16 1-3 16, Wade 7-16 4-6 18, Anthony 2-2 0-0 4, Miller 1-6 0-0 3, Battier 1-2 0-0 3, Cole 1-3 0-0 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-76 15-21 83.

Chicago 23 17 21 11— 72

Miami 27 15 24 17— 83

3-Point GoalsChicago 2-16 (Lucas 2-7, Watson 0-1, Korver 0-2, Hamilton 0-2, Deng 0-4), Miami 4-13 (Battier 1-2, L.James 1-2, Miller 1-4, Chalmers 1-5). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsChicago 48 (Noah 10), Miami 55 (L.James 11). AssistsChicago 16 (Watson, Lucas 4), Miami 14 (L.James 6). Total FoulsChicago 19, Miami 19. TechnicalsHamilton, Lucas, L.James, Wade, Miami defensive three second. Flagrant Fouls—Wade, Jones. Ejected— Jones. A20,008 (19,600).

Pacers 118, Bucks 109

MILWAUKEE (109): Delfino 0-1 0-0 0, Mbah a Moute 7-11 1-1 16, Gooden 6-15 3-4 15, Jennings 8-23 10-10 27, Ellis 5-14 2-3 12, Sanders 2-4 0-0 4, Dunleavy 6-12 8-9 23, Udrih 2-4 0-0 5, Udoh 1-4 5-6 7. Totals 37-88 29-33 109.

INDIANA (118): Granger 7-20 11-11 29, West 9-14 3-4 21, Hibbert 5-5 2-2 12, Hill 8-12 4-7 22, George 6-11 2-3 14, Barbosa 4-10 1-1 10, Hansbrough 2-7 0-2 4, Amundson 2-7 0-0 4, Price 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-4 2-2 2. Totals 43-91 25-32 118.

Milwaukee 29 21 28 31— 109

Indiana 34 22 33 29— 118

3-Point GoalsMilwaukee 6-20 (Dunleavy 3-7, Mbah a Moute 1-1, Udrih 1-2, Jennings 1-8, Ellis 0-1, Gooden 0-1), Indiana 7-17 (Granger 4-10, Hill 2-3, Barbosa 1-3, George 0-1). ReboundsMilwaukee 54 (Mbah a Moute 11), Indiana 56 (West 14). AssistsMilwaukee 15 (Ellis 7), Indiana 24 (Hill 8). Total FoulsMilwaukee 26, Indiana 22. TechnicalsSanders 2, Granger, West. Flagrant Fouls—Barbosa. Ejected—Sanders. A12,453 (18,165).

Timberwolves 91, Pistons 80

MINNESOTA (91): Johnson 2-6 0-0 5, Randolph 5-10 5-6 15, Pekovic 10-17 3-6 23, Barea 5-12 2-2 13, Webster 1-4 0-0 3, Williams 3-6 5-6 11, Beasley 5-10 3-6 13, Tolliver 0-2 0-0 0, Lee 1-2 0-0 2, Ellington 2-4 2-2 6. Totals 34-73 20-28 91.

DETROIT (80): Prince 7-17 3-5 18, Maxiell 2-6 0-0 4, Monroe 3-7 0-0 6, Knight 2-12 0-0 5, Stuckey 2-8 0-0 4, Villanueva 2-6 0-0 6, Gordon 5-14 3-3 14, Jerebko 2-3 0-0 6, Wilkins 0-3 0-0 0, Macklin 0-0 0-0 0, Bynum 8-15 1-1 17. Totals 33-91 7-9 80.

Minnesota 24 25 19 23— 91

Detroit 16 15 17 32— 80

3-Point GoalsMinnesota 3-15 (Johnson 1-3, Barea 1-4, Webster 1-4, Tolliver 0-1, Williams 0-1, Ellington 0-2), Detroit 7-19 (Jerebko 2-2, Villanueva 2-4, Prince 1-3, Gordon 1-4, Knight 1-4, Bynum 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsMinnesota 57 (Randolph 10), Detroit 50 (Villanueva 12). AssistsMinnesota 24 (Barea 12), Detroit 14 (Stuckey, Prince, Gordon 3). Total FoulsMinnesota 11, Detroit 21. A12,458 (22,076).

Hornets 105, Rockets 99 OT

HOUSTON (99): Parsons 1-9 0-0 3, Scola 5-10 1-2 11, Camby 7-10 0-3 14, Dragic 7-15 6-10 23, Lee 5-14 2-3 15, Budinger 8-17 2-2 22, Lowry 0-5 3-3 3, Patterson 4-9 0-2 8. Totals 37-89 14-25 99.

NEW ORLEANS (105): Aminu 6-14 5-6 17, Thomas 2-2 0-0 4, J.Smith 3-8 0-0 6, Vasquez 3-9 1-2 7, Gordon 9-18 8-10 27, Landry 9-13 2-2 20, Ayon 4-5 1-2 9, Henry 0-2 0-0 0, Dyson 0-5 0-0 0, Belinelli 4-10 2-2 13, Watkins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 41-87 19-24 105.

Houston 29 22 13 23 12— 99

New Orleans 22 21 26 18 18— 105

3-Point GoalsHouston 11-31 (Budinger 4-11, Lee 3-5, Dragic 3-7, Parsons 1-5, Lowry 0-3), New Orleans 4-20 (Belinelli 3-7, Gordon 1-5, Dyson 0-1, J.Smith 0-1, Aminu 0-3, Vasquez 0-3). Fouled OutLee, Ayon. ReboundsHouston 49 (Scola, Patterson 8), New Orleans 65 (Landry, Ayon 10). AssistsHouston 25 (Dragic 8), New Orleans 23 (Vasquez 9). Total FoulsHouston 24, New Orleans 22. A18,315 (17,188).

Howard's season ends with surgery 04/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 20, 2012 1:09am]

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