Dwight Howard injury: Lakers center to return, start against Cavaliers

USA TODAY Sports

The band is (partly) back together! Dwight Howard is coming back earlier than expected to start against the Cavs Sunday night.

The Los Angeles Lakers, losers of six in a row and possessors of a 15-21 season record, got some good news Sunday night. Dwight Howard, who has missed the team's last three games with a torn labrum, will start against the Cleveland Cavaliers at home in what has to be the Lakers' best chance of turning their skid around.

Howard has been the subject of a hefty amount of criticism this year as he has struggled to full recover his previously breathtaking athleticism after back surgery late last season, but his numbers have been near his previous levels. He's averaging 17.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a game, but he isn't affecting the opposing team's offense the way he has in years past. As a result — coupled with myriad other factors, including sporting among the worst defensive backcourt in the league — the Lakers defense has struggled.

Pau Gasol, however, will miss his fourth consecutive game with a concussion and Jordan Hill, who had played decently as the third big man, was lost for the rest of the season with a hip injury earlier this weekend.

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