Still trying to get fully healthy from offseason back surgery, Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard says that he's aware his inconsistent energy and conditioning have cost the team wins in what's been a trying first season with the franchise, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles writes.
In an interview on Saturday, Howard discussed his ongoing struggles after last year's surgery, which forced the big man to take six months off from basketball:
You've got to have energy and I want to bring that energy every night. That's my job. They count on me to be that guy. I just know how much more effective I will be when I'm in better shape. And, unfortunately, it's cost us a lot of games.
While Howard said his conditioning has steadily improved throughout the season, he added that he's not remotely close to where he wants to be physically, or even where he was before the surgery.
Early in the season, Howard looked noticeably limited, unable to put forth the kind of dominant effort on the defensive end that's made him one of the league's best players. He's looked better in recent games, though: in his past five contests, Howard is averaging 19 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, shooting 62 percent from the field.
But that stretch was preceded by one of his most frustrating as a Laker, a 10-game period in which L.A. went 4-of-6 as Howard put up averages of 10.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in less than 30 minutes per game.
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