Dwight Howard wants to improve conditioning before returning

Dressed in a practice gear, Dwight Howard looked explosive in pregame warm-ups. During a third-quarter timeout, Howard appeared in rhythm as he danced to “Gangnam Style.” The Lakers center also described his surgically repaired back as “pretty good.”

But is that enough for Howard to return in the Lakers’ third preseason game Saturday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center? As expected, Howard resorted to a recycled joke about his iPhone 5.

“Let me check the app,” Howard said after the Lakers’ 93-75 preseason loss Wednesday to the Portland Trail Blazers. “No service.”

The Lakers cleared Howard for full-court five-on-five drills with contact during Tuesday’s practice. The assessments universally rang positive. He threw down a few dunks. Howard blocked Chris Douglas-Roberts driving into the lane. Howard also played a fairly physical game against rookie center Robert Sacre.


But Howard stayed on the injured reserve with Kobe Bryant (strained right shoulder) and Jordan Hill (herniated disk). The Lakers center said he still doesn’t feel fully healthy yet because of one significant variable.

“I want to feel 110% and make sure I’m in great shape and make sure my conditioning is where it needs to be,” Howard said. “That’s the biggest thing right now that we’re pushing. I don’t want to go out there and not be who I am as far as running the floor and playing great defense and blocking shots and getting very active. When you’re fatigued, you can’t do all of those things. I want to make sure I can do all of those things.”


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