Dwight Howard says he’s nervous about making his Lakers debut … whenever that is

Tomorrow’s story today …

Dwight Howard was a little off his game Thursday. Howard still doesn’t know when he’ll make his Lakers debut, and he sounded a little grumpy when asked for, oh, about the 18th consecutive day when his surgically-repaired back might be sound enough to allow him to play in a game.

He sure looks good in the brief moments reporters have witnessed of him near the tail end of recent scrimmages, when they’re allowed into the gym. He won’t play in Friday night’s exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings in Las Vegas, however.

Conditioning rather than back strength is the issue at the moment, and it finally seemed to gnaw at him during Thursday’s question-and-answer session with reporters. He was a little edgier than in the past, his impatience with some queries quite obvious.

“There’s no point in you asking the same questions every day,” he said.

In time, the easy-going Howard returned.

He even admitted he would be jittery for his Lakers debut, whenever it is.

“Like I told Steve (Nash), I think I’ll be a little nervous out there for the first time,” Howard said of his first game after he was acquired from the Orlando Magic on Aug. 10. “But he said he would help me through it and, hopefully, it will be OK.”

Why would a six-time All-Star who has played in the NBA Finals be nervous?

“New town, new city, I think everybody is expecting a lot out of his team and they’re expecting a lot out of me,” Howard said. “So, I have to make sure I keep all of that out of my mind when I’m playing and just have fun.”

Including tonight, the Lakers have four exhibitions to play. They open the regular season Oct. 30 against the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. Howard said earlier this month he hoped to play in several exhibitions before the opener.

“I don’t want to go out there fatigued and injure something else, because most of the time that’s when you have injuries,” he said of his slow recovery. “I don’t want to take a step back. I’ve come too far from where I was (after last April’s surgery).”

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