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Dwight Howard Brings Hope to Lakers

 The Los Angeles Lakers may have a big piece back in their starting rotation against the Sacramento Kings Sunday as they are hopeful for the return of center Dwight Howard.

Howard, who had back surgery last April, has been going through rehab with the Lakers medical staff. A couple of weeks ago he started participating in team drills. During the preseason Howard has watched from the bench as the Lakers remain winless.

The Lakers suffered their fifth loss of the preseason to the Kings Friday night 103-98.  Kobe Bryant had 22 points and six rebounds and Pau Gasol chipped in with 20 points and six rebounds. With 19 points for Marcus Thornton and 18 points and 10 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings move to their record to 3-1 on the preseason.

Howard, who traveled with the team to Las Vegas, will head back to Los Angeles with the Lakers and will wait to receive official clearance from the Lakers medical staff about playing Sunday.  He will practice Saturday with the team and participate in shoot-around Sunday morning.

“I want to hopefully play in a couple of preseason games, or at least one,” Howard said. “I think it’s very important for myself, for the team.  But if the trainers don’t feel like I need to play right now, then I won’t play.  There’s no rush.”

The Lakers will play three more exhibition games before they open the season against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 30.

Howard is looking forward to hitting the floor if he gets the opportunity to play in any of the remaining preseason games.

“I know I’m going to be a little rusty; I haven’t played in so long,” Howard said. “It’s going to 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.”

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