The wait continues.
Even after the Lakers’ morning shootaround on Sunday, the team still doesn’t know if Dwight Howard will make his Lakers debut tonight when they host the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center.
Howard hardly sounded annoyed by the never-ending question he’s fielded as he’s rehabbed his surgically repaired back. He imitated Lakers assistant Chuck Person when relaying his latest playing status.
“It’s a game-time decision,” Howard said after participating in all of Sunday’s 90-minute morning shootaround without any limitations. “That means you have to wait until the game starts. If you can see him warming up, it means a decision has been made.”
That never-ending uncertainty only fielded more questions.
What if Howard isn’t warming up?
“If you don’t see him warming up, the decision was he was not playing,” Howard said, maintaining his Person imitation.
What about the Laker fans who are debating whether to buy tickets for tonight’s game?
“They should buy the ticket because the Lakers are playing tonight,” Howard said.”That’s why they should buy the ticket.”
But what about for fans who are weighing the Lakers-Kings game versus seeing Game 6 of the National League Championship series between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants. Or how about for the conflicted fans who want to see if it’s worth seeing the Lakers without Howard over watching Sunday Night Football between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals?
“The better game is tomorrow right?” Howard said, referring to the Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears matchup. “That means you have to wait until the game.”
Did Howard at least have any good dreams about possibly playing tonight?
“Maybe. I had a dream that one day…” Howard said, trailing off as he struggled reciting Martin Luther King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech.
If Howard has any assumption he’s not playing, the Lakers center at least masked his disappointment well. Throughout his brief interview, Howard made various facial expressions to Person, Coach Mike Brown, Metta World Peace and assistant Eddie Jordan. After working on free-throw shooting with Person, Howard ended his workout challenging the former NBA sharpshooter to touch the rim. Howard ended his brief interview session widening his jaw and showing off his teeth, a habit Brown does frequently.
This might sound silly over all the attention surrounding Howard’s possible return, for a preseason game no less.
“I know they want to see him play some games,” Brown said. “I’d love for him to play some games. But if he doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.”
After tonight’s game, the Lakers only have two remaining preseason contests. They host the Clippers Wednesday at Staples Center and then play the Kings Thursday at San Diego. Would Brown feel hesitant in playing Howard in a back-to-back?
“To me, it’s not a concern because I don’t have to clear him,” Brown said. “Once he gets cleared, for me as a head coach, back-to-back and six days in a row is not a concern for me as long as he’s cleared.”
It seemed like all but a foregone conclusion that Howard would return for the Lakers’ sixth preseason game. Yahoo! Sports first reported the Lakers planned their star center for him to return at that date. Howard talked openly following Saturday’s practice about what it would be like once he finally stepped on the court. Since Oct 10, Howard has participated in full-court five-on-five contact drills and hasn’t reported any setbacks.
But for now, the Lakers are listing second-round draft pick Robert Sacre as their starting center in their game notes.
“In this whole preseason to me, he’s looked good,” Brown said of Howard. “I’m not a medical doctor, but with the way he looks, I’d play him from day one. But I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
Brown then laughed.
“When it comes to medical things,” Brown said. “There are lot of people who don’t know what I’m talking about at all and I’m okay with it. I’ll jump on the bandwagon.”
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