Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has been forced to miss the team’s last 19 games due to edema in his right knee, but according to head coach Kevin McHale, Howard is starting to make progress in his rehabilitation process.
McHale told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com that Howard has resumed ‘mild’ on-court activities, and could possibly return to the floor before the conclusion of the regular season.
“He is starting to do a combination of treadmill and floor stuff, which is a good sign,” McHale said Saturday night. “They’re going slow. They want to make sure that they have a handle on it.”
In early February, Howard underwent a bone marrow aspirate injection and started rehab immediately. The team said Howard would be out four to six weeks and that Howard’s status would be evaluated after four weeks.
Despite Howard’s absence, Houston is still the third seed in the Western Conference with a record of 43-20, thanks in large part to the MVP-caliber play of James Harden. In addition to Harden’s spectacular play, the Rockets have gotten strong contributions from frontcourt players such as Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, who have both done an exceptional job of filling in for Houston’s defense anchor.
Jones, who missed a boatload of games earlier in the season due to a nerve contusion in his left leg, has averaged 12.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2 blocks per game in his 16 games back from the injury.
Motiejunas is having a career year, with averages of 11.7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Motiejunas has proved to be a crafty low-post player that is capable of scoring in the paint with solid footwork and a bevy of fakes.
But if Houston wants to make a deep playoff run, they’ll need Howard’s defense and rebounding to combat other formidable frontcourt foes such as Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin and Marc Gasol.
Howard, 29, was averaging 16.3 points (lowest since his sophomore season in the NBA), and 11 rebounds (lowest since his rookie season) per game this year. Houston is 13-6 in the 19 games Howard has sat out.