Ailing Dwight Howard misses game

DALLAS -- Mavericks center Brendan Haywood declared Sunday that he doesn't have a problem with Dwight Howard and doesn't have any idea what Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy is talking about.

Van Gundy accused Haywood of punching Howard in the lower back during the Mavericks' come-from-behind victory Friday night in Orlando, saying that caused the back spasms that sidelined the All-NBA center for Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets. Van Gundy said he has sent video of the play to the NBA office.

"Man, I don't know what's wrong with Stan," Haywood said after the Mavericks' practice Sunday. "Stan's going to say what Stan wants to say. We don't gotta play them no more. The game's over with.

"I think Dwight caught me with more shots than I caught him. He's the most physical player in the league. So it is what it is. Stan made his comment. I haven't got a call from anybody (in the league office), so I guess nobody's listening."

Howard didn't practice Saturday due to soreness in his lower back. The Magic hoped he would be able to play against the Nuggets, but Howard was ruled out less than an hour before tip-off. It's only the eighth game he has missed in his eight-year career and only the third due to injury.

Glen Davis started in Howard's place Sunday during Orlando's loss to the Nuggets.

Van Gundy didn't specify when the alleged incident occurred, but he accused Haywood of punching Howard in the back twice during one possession.

"It's really ridiculous and I want to get it on film and send it in (to the league office)," Van Gundy said Saturday, according to OrlandoMagic.com. "Haywood just punched him literally with a closed fist right in the back. So (Howard) got through the game because he was loose, but then it really tightened up.

"They are going to work on him and hopefully he'll be OK."

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said his staff reviewed the game film and didn't find any evidence to support Van Gundy's accusations.

"We looked at some different things and didn't see anything other than just some physical play," Carlisle said. "But there wasn't a play where Howard flinched or anything."

Added Haywood: "I was watching NBA TV last night. They said they looked over it and couldn't find it. I guess Stan has that magical hand cam that he was taking from the bench and he got something nobody else got."

Haywood, who had missed the previous seven games with a sprained right knee, isn't concerned about any disciplinary action. Haywood said he understands that Van Gundy wants to protect his star player, but Haywood laughed off the claim about punches being thrown.

"Dwight doesn't have a problem with me. I don't have a problem with Dwight," Haywood said. "So the only person that really has a problem here is Stan. He's probably going to go to sleep and have a good Sunday."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.