Dwight Howard says opponents targeting his injured shoulder

USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard believes opponents are attempting to injure his right shoulder.

Dwight Howard's torn labrum is far from a secret. After returning following the aftermath of Kobe Bryant's public comments about his Lakers teammate, the Los Angeles center believes that opponents are playing a little rough. He told Yahoo! Sports that he felt like players are now purposely hacking at his injured right shoulder, causing pain that doesn't go away for an entire game.

"They got me early," he told Yahoo! Sports in the quiet of the Lakers locker room after Sunday's 107-97 loss. "They would yank it back."

The injury won't heal in the foreseeable future, and that means Howard's widely-known pain will persist for the rest of this season.

After sitting out three games and taking subtle criticism from Bryant through the media, Howard returned on Thursday against the Boston Celtics. Though Howard moves like a shell of his former self -- it's not helping that he's still limited following offseason back surgery -- he is averaging 13 points and 9.7 rebounds in three games after his return.

Pain might hold Howard back to a large degree. But with Pau Gasol sitting out with a torn plantar fascia and time running out for Los Angeles to make a playoff push, the Lakers need everything he's got.

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