T.J. SIMERS

Lakers' Dwight Howard says sitting out is painful for him too

It is difficult for Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni and others to see 'Superman' miss games because his shoulder pain is not visible, but Howard assures he simply doesn't want to further injure himself.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Kobe Bryant doubled over in laughter when I asked whether he thought the day would come when Bynum played so well.

Will Bynum. A runt who plays for the Pistons. Shredded the Lakers' interior defense.

And by the way, whatever happened to that other Bynum?

He's not playing, of course, but then the guy they got for him, Dwight Howard, isn't playing either.

And the whisper coming out of the Lakers' locker room after Mike D'Antoni suggested his team had won a playoff game with Detroit was not good.

The Lakers' coaching staff apparently thinks Howard is a wimp, a baby unwilling to test his shoulder against the Pistons.

Sounds like Andrew Bynum.

D'Antoni said he didn't learn Howard wasn't going to play until he boarded the team bus for the ride to the Palace of Auburn Hills.

It's not surprising the way D'Antoni has established himself as a non-communicator, but apparently he was so taken aback by the surprise development, and his disgust was evident to others.

Here's the problem: The Lakers need everyone as they make a desperate push to find their game and make the playoffs.

And Howard appears healthy, because his arm isn't in a sling, his pain not visible, and he's still smiling.

No one can feel his pain, and some folks think a player should play through such pain because they don't feel it.

But Howard is coming off a year in which he did just that and further injured himself. It's a good reason to be cautious, but we don't even know whether Howard is doing that.

"I don't want to sit out — period," said Howard. "I know how important I can be to our team's success, but at the same time I don't want what happened last year to happen again.

"I played with a sore back as long as I could. I did everything, cracked it, popped it, had acupuncture, whatever to keep playing and I ended up hurting it really bad.

"I don't want that to happen to my shoulder."

Howard returned to Los Angeles to have blood removed from each arm, spun around a little, as he said, and then had his own blood injected into the front of the shoulder in the hopes of reaching the pain in the rear of his shoulder.

General Manager Mitch Kupchak joined Howard at the doctor's office and Howard was most appreciative.

"The Lakers' organization has done everything to help me," said Howard, while also thanking Kupchak for contacting the league office on his behalf.

Kupchak, reached by telephone, said, "There's a protocol to airing opinions or complaints with the NBA. And we've done that.

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