HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The long wait to see Dwight Howard in live action with the Los Angeles Lakers could be over by the weekend.
The Lakers’ Sunday preseason game against Sacramento is Howard’s target game to make his official return to the court, as first reported by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports and later by Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“I told Steve [Nash], ‘I think I’m going to be a little nervous out there the first time,'” Howard told reporters after the Lakers practiced Thursday. “He said he’d help me through it. But this is a new team, new city, and I think everybody is expecting a lot out of me, so I have to make sure I keep all that out of my mind when I play in front of the home crowd.”
Howard had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back in April and didn’t start running until just before the start of training camp. The only real action he’s seen on the court has been against teammates in practice, including scrimmages.
Sunday would give him an opportunity to test himself under the bright lights, albeit in a preseason game, before the Lakers’ Oct. 30 season opener against the Dallas Mavericks.
With preseason games against the Los Angeles Clippers (Wednesday) and another one against the Kings (Thursday), Howard will have a chance to see how his body responds to the ramped up intensity of a live game before the opener. And he made it clear that feels it’s important to take that test before the real games start, telling ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“I think it does. You can’t expect for a preseason game to be like Michael Jordan‘s comeback where he goes for 45 points and 40 rebounds. Right now I just want to get my feet wet.”
“I know I’m going to be a little rusty, I haven’t played in so long,” Howard said. “It’s going be a little different, but I’m looking forward to it. Once I get my first dunk or my first block, everything will be OK.”
The Lakers are counting on that being the case. Whatever bonding that Howard, Nash, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace have done so far has been strictly in a training camp environment.
Battling the Lakers’ second unit fine simulation of what’s to come, but it’s not close to the real thing!