Howard out versus Bucks with quad contusion

Dwight Howard missed Wednesday’s game against the Bucks due to the left quad contusion suffered the previous night.

Mike Muscala got the start at center in place of Howard.

The Hawks listed Dwight Howard as questionable on the team’s injury report issued Wednesday afternoon. Coach Mike Budenholzer did not rule out Howard in his pregame availability but an hour later, he was not in the starting lineup.

“I think there has been a positive response, a positive progress,” Budenholzer said of the treatment that Howard received since suffering the injury against the Heat on Tuesday night in Miami.

Howard was not inactive because the Hawks already have Tiago Splitter and Mike Scott out with injuries.

Budenholzer said before the game that the decision to start Muscala was an easy one.

“Even I can figure out Muscala is playing pretty good,” Budenholzer said.

Muscala is averaging 9.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 steals in 20.4 minutes appearing in all 10 games. He ranks third in the NBA in field goal percentage (.655) and effective field goal percentage (.707).

Howard left the game at the Heat with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter and did not return. Howard banged knees with Heat center Hassan Whiteside in a play along the baseline.

Howard received treatment during and after Tuesday’s game and Wednesday morning. He met with trainers in the afternoon before the Hawks updated their injury report.

Speaking with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution following Tuesday’s game, Howard said the injury was “really painful.”

“It swelled up pretty bad,” Howard said. “We are trying to make sure it doesn’t swell up anymore. I tried to come in the back and get as much ice on it as I could so it won’t swell. Some of the swelling did go down.

“It’s super tight right now. Really painful. I wanted to come back out there but they said it wasn’t worth it this early in the season. There is a lot of pain..”

The Hawks face a busy period with six games in nine days. They played the Bucks in a second of back-to-back games. After a day off on Thursday, they will play Southeast Division opponent Hornets in Charlotte on Friday before an afternoon game at the Knicks on Sunday.

Howard had his eighth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds before exiting Tuesday. He is averaging 14.8 points and 12.3 rebounds through 10 games.

The Hawks faced a challenge inside by the Bucks, who rank first in the NBA in points in the paint with an average of 49.8 per game.

“They are long, obviously, with Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and (John) Henson too,” Muscala said before the game. “Jabari (Parker) too is very athletic. You just have to make that a focal point of getting rebounds, showing a good crowd and making them make some tough contested 2’s.”

The Hawks were also without key reserve Thabo Sefolosha, who was listed as out with a mild left knee sprain. Sefolosha is averaging 8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.6 steals in 24 minutes. He is tied for second in the NBA in steals. He was not listed on the team’s injury report prior to the game.