Rockets’ Dwight Howard returns to L.A. to play Lakers

Feb 15, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; 2014 Western Conference All-Stars center Dwight Howard (Rockets) (12) reacts during the practice session at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets are the No. 3 seed in the West. His former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, are second to last. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Dwight Howard’s Hollywood experiment did not go as planned last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The all-star center had his worst season in recent years and subsequently spurned the Lakers’ five-year $118 million offer for the Rockets’ four-year, $87.6 million contract last July.

The move has worked out well for Howard and the Rockets (36-17), who are third in the tough Western Conference and face the reeling Lakers (18-35) in Los Angeles tonight.

It will mark Howard’s first game against his former team at Staples Center as a member of the Rockets.

“There’s a couple things that could’ve been done, but that’s over with now,” Howard said Tuesday afternoon (via ESPN). “I’m in a better place, our team is doing great and the Lakers, they’ll come back. But hopefully this is the Rockets’ time.”

Houston, led by James Harden’s 23.9 points per game, has won seven in a row, while the injury-plagued Lakers have slid to a tie for the bottom of the conference.

Howard, who was named to his eighth consecutive all-star team, is averaging 18.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

He fully expects a hostile Staples Center when he arrives on court.

“I think there will be a lot of boos,” Howard said (via ESPN). “I can’t really focus too much on that. I know I’m going to hear it the whole game. All the noises, whatever you want to call it, ‘Coward.’ There’s not anything I can do about it except to go out and play.”

When: 10:30 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Season head-to-head record: 1-1 (Nov. 7, 2013 – Lakers won 99-98 at Houston, Jan. 8, 2014 – Rockets won 113-99 at Houston)

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.
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