Lakers leads Kings, 57-46, at halftime

It didn’t take long for Dwight Howard to make an impact with the Lakers.

In the first few minutes, he set up Kobe Bryant for a three-pointer. Howard threw down an alley-oop dunk from Pau Gasol. Howard’s mere presence suddenly opened up for the floor for everyone, including Bryant (13 points on four-of-six shooting), Gasol (six points on two-of-three shooting), World Peace (nine points on three-of-six shooting) and Steve Nash (six points on two-of-two shooting). Once the first half ended, Howard finished with eight points on three-of-four shooting, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists.

But Howard also encountered some rustiness.

He committed two turnovers. Howard went only two-of-seven from the free-throw line. At times, Howard showed signs of fatigue in his first basketball game since having back surgery in April.

Still, Howard provided plenty of signs suggesting he’s well on his way to becoming an unstoppable center again.

Howard threw down a lob from Bryant. He suddenly made it easy for the Lakers’ to play defense. Howard provided a putback despite fighting through a double team and falling to the floor.

Bryant ended the first half with a game-winner, per usual. But it looked obvious Howard’s arrival showed how much easier it will be for the Lakers’ stars to score.

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