Dwight Howard not expected to play Saturday vs. Utah

Lakers center Dwight Howard touted that he made "a lot of progress" on his conditioning during Friday's practice, but it's still not enough to pencil him into the lineup when the Lakers host a preseason game Saturday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.

In addition to ensuring his surgically repaired back feels fully healthy, Howard reiterated that he wants to improve his stamina so he's not more susceptible to future injuries. Most of the practice was closed to the media, but Lakers Coach Mike Brown revealed the sessions including two full-court scrimmages, one lasting 12 minutes and the other lasting six.

"They pushed me a lot in the scrimmage," Howard said. "I probably played the most minutes out of everybody in the scrimmage. I was running a lot, just trying to push through fatigue. I'm getting there. That's the biggest thing right now."

After their exhibition Saturday against Utah, the Lakers have five other preseason games. Howard has said he'd like to play, but only if his back feels fully healthy.

Will that happen?

"I'm not sure," Brown said.

But neither Howard nor the Lakers are concerned.

"He's been great in working his tail off," Brown said. "He's been leading the team and has been really, really good. Just by listening to the training staff and doctors and not trying to overdo it, that's how he's balancing it. They're just doing what they ask of him to do. He's communicating with them and other than that, when it's time to go out and work he's rolling up his sleeves and getting after it."


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