Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard suffered a left knee bruise during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, and is slated to undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
Howard suffered the injury in the first quarter of Houston’s 110-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors when teammate Josh Smith collided with his knee after missing a shot. Howard finished with 7 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
When asked by the media if he’d be ready for Game 2 on Thursday, Howard didn’t seem too sure.
It’s very painful. I tried to play it off as much as possible, but I couldn’t give my teammates what I needed to give them.
Howard did start the second half for Houston, but it was easy to tell he was being hampered by his bruised knee. Howard’s explosion wasn’t at the level we had grown accustomed to seeing this postseason as he was forced to trot up and down the court gingerly. He tried to shake off the injury by doing stretches, running up and down the baseline and even cycling, but it was all for naught.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale elected to end Howard’s night less than a minute into the fourth quarter as he sat Howard in favor of youngster Clint Capela. McHale didn’t blame Houston’s squandering of a 16-point lead on Howard’s absence though, referencing the fact that they played almost half the season without Howard.
Dwight wasn’t able to play, but we played over a half a season without Dwight. There’s no excuses. We’ve got to play. There’s balls there to be had, there’s rebounds there to be had. There’s baskets there to be had, there’s layups there to be made. We’ve got to do that. Dwight didn’t prohibit us from — we were 26-for-51 at the rim. We got their setting and we didn’t finish. That team, [Andrew] Bogut barely played, so there’s no shot blocking. You’ve just got to go in there and finish it.
Dwight Howard was hindered by a right knee injury during the regular season, and missed a total of 41 games for the Rockets. He returned late in the regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans, and has resembled a dominant force this postseason. Howard is averaging 17.2 points and 13.8 rebounds (1st overall) per game in these playoffs.
Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals is at 9:00 PM ET in Oakland. We’ll be sure to bring you an update regarding Howard’s playing status once one is given.