First Patrick Beverley and now Dwight Howard. The Houston Rockets will be without their star center for Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a tweet from Comcast SportsNet's Adam Wexler.
Howard has been battling a nagging ankle injury and is likely trying to get some rest before Houston's eventual run into the playoffs. The former Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers big man was walking around in slippers during shootaround Saturday morning.
Omer Asik will pick up the load in Howard's absence, which is great news on the defensive end of the floor for the Rockets. Los Angeles' formidable front line of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be looking to dominate the glass, and Asik won't miss a beat with Howard out.
The real worry will be on offense. Houston haven't beat the Clippers all season, where Los Angeles have slowed the deadly fastbreak attack from the Rockets. Without Howard, their halfcourt and secondary break options become more limited. Even further, with Beverley out, the Rockets will be looking for big minutes from James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons in multiple positions.
Saturday's game is a battle for the third spot in the Western Conference playoff standings. L.A. is just a game ahead of Houston at the moment, but if the Rockets lose the teams would swap positions. As it sits now, Houston would meet the Portland Trail Blazers in the playoffs, while the Clippers would see the Golden State Warriors in the first round.