Tomorrow’s story tonight …
Apparently, all herniated discs are the same. Jordan Hill said Tuesday he didn’t need surgery to repair a herniated disc on the same day Dwight Howard took another step toward making his Lakers debut after having disc surgery last spring.
Howard won’t play Wednesday in the Lakers’ exhibition game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario, but he was cleared to resume participating in full-contact five-on-five scrimmages for limited minutes.
Exactly when the 6-foot-11 center is cleared to scrimmage without limitations is uncertain, with the Lakers taking a long, slow and cautious approach to readying Howard for the regular-season opener Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks.
Howard underwent season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in April, when he was still with the Orlando Magic. The Lakers acquired him in a blockbuster trade in August, confident he would be sound sooner rather than later.
When reporters were allowed into the gym near the end of the Lakers’ 3 1/2-hour practice Tuesday, they were treated to a vintage display from Howard. He blocked a pair of shots, did a chin-up on the rim and then dunked and made one of two free throws.
Later, he was asked about his back and Hill’s, too.
Howard couldn’t say whether he was 100 percent, relying on his training camp mantra that his goal after coming to the Lakers wasn’t to play in exhibition games in October but to win an NBA championship in June.
Asked if he gave Hill any advice about his back, which flared up during Sunday’s exhibition loss to the Golden State Warriors, Howard said, “The doctor told him his wasn’t as bad as mine. The biggest thing is not to rush anything and just take his time.”
The Lakers’ plan for Hill is to keep him off the court until he is re-evaluated by a back specialist next week. Hill, a backup power forward said he was told to work on strengthening his core muscles to take some pressure off his back.
Hill won’t play or practice for a while.
The team’s plan for Howard hasn’t changed.
He’ll play when he’s good and ready, and not a minute sooner.