Even with everyone waiting for him on the sideline, Dwight Howard ignored the attention and focused on himself.
That entailed endlessly working with Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person following morning shootaround Friday on a series of post-up and driving moves that tested his quickness and mobility. It served as the perfect image on Howard’s declaration that he won’t let the aggravated right shoulder inhibit his aggressiveness when the Lakers (17-25) host the Utah Jazz (23-19) tonight at Staples Center.
“I just have to play,” Howard said. “It’s the same thing with my back. My back is not 100 percent. My body is not 100 percent. I have to go out there and leave it all out on the floor no matter what the situation is and just play through it.”
Howard vowed he would do that earlier this week when he proclaimed a “new season” and vowed he’d take more defensive responsibility following a meeting that partly entailed Kobe Bryant confronting him about how frustration playing with him. But in the Lakers’ 106-93 loss Wednesday to the Memphis Grizzlies, Howard aggravated his right shoulder after fighting through a pick set by Rudy Gay. Howard immediately clutched his shoulder and asked coach Mike D’Antoni to remove him form the game. Howard went to the locker room with 2:21 left in the second quarter and didn’t return in the second half.
Specialist Dr. James Tibone examined Howard’s shoulder on the Lakers’ day off Thursday and determined there was no further damage. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t plan on providing any minute limitations for Howard, who’s averaged 16.7 points and 12 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game.
“We obviously need him,” D’Antoni said. “He’s ready to roll.”
After missing three games two weeks ago because of the injured shoulder, Howard said he was informed he may feel he lacks strength in his shoulder on certain days. But he believes his normal rehab involving icing and electronic stimulation will ensure he’ll stay healthy enough.
“I’m still dealing with one injury,” Howard said. “Now I have to deal with another one. ust try to find a way to play through it and try to have tunnel vision.”
LAKERS NOTEBOOK: Dwight Howard expected to play
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at email@example.com