Howard-less Magic visit playoff-hopeful Jazz

The Orlando Magic will try to press on without All-Star center Dwight Howard when they visit the playoff-hopeful Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Howard's season came to an end earlier this week when it was reveled that the big man would undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back.

The 26-year-old center has missed eight games this season with the issue, including the last six, more than he had missed in his first seven seasons in the NBA combined. When in the lineup, he has averaged 20.6 points and a league-best 14.5 rebounds per contest.

Orlando has already clinched a playoff berth and sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 36-26 record, but is 3-5 without Howard.

"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."

Most recently the Magic fell in Boston, 102-98, on Wednesday. Glen Davis had 27 points against his former team and Jameer Nelson finished with 21.

"Offensively we are playing better. I think we are staying together, and we are fighting hard," Van Gundy said. "We are not able to stop anybody right now."

The Jazz, meanwhile, kept their playoff hopes alive with a 112-91 dismantling of the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday behind Devin Harris' 27 points.

Gordon Hayward added 23 while Alec Burks supplied 17 points off the bench and Al Jefferson contributed an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double in Utah's second straight victory.

The Jazz are currently deadlocked with Phoenix for the Western Conference's final playoff spot, and the two teams will clash in Salt Lake City next Tuesday. In fact, Utah will play all of its remaining three games at EnergySolutions Arena, where it is 10-2 since the All-Star break.

"We got three games at home, where we play well," Harris said of the team's upcoming schedule. "We put ourselves in a nice position, but we still have to play the games."

The Jazz have won three of their last four games with Orlando.