For the first time since having back surgery six months ago, Dwight Howard participated in full-court five-on-five scrimmages.
So when Howard will actually step on the court? It won't happen Wednesday, when the Lakers are scheduled to play the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario. And Howard wouldn't say if he'd be ready for the following preseason game, Saturday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
"I'm getting there," Howard said. "I'm getting better."
Howard's participation in five-on-five drills happened in what the Lakers called "limited minutes," and he said he needs to improve his conditioning.
"I'm trying to get my legs down and get into good shape so I can play," Howard said. "That's my main concern, getting my legs under me."
To Lakers officials, though, he looked sharp.
"For the most part, he's doing just about everything," said Coach Mike Brown, though he didn't offer specifics. "We all want him to take his time so nothing happens to him and we don't rush him back."
In the time open to the media to view practice, Howard made a nifty cross-court pass to Kobe Bryant for a dunk. He continuously bodied rookie Robert Sacre in the post, and stuffed Chris Douglas-Roberts as he drove into the lane.
Howard's full-court participation in five-on-five drills came after four days when he could only play in a series of five-on-five-on-five drills in which teams routinely shuffled out. In other words, Howard's practice time Tuesday was his longest stretch of on-court time since training camp started last week. It also means that Howard has now participated in every aspect of the Lakers' practices.
"I'm getting better," he said. "I haven't played basketball in six months, so I had to get accustomed to playing and getting my rhythm back on the offense and defense and getting my legs back."
Howard sounded surprised that the media representatives present considered his first full-court five-on-five participation a significant development.
"I didn't come here to play in practice and preseason," Howard said. "I'm here for one reason and that's to help us win a championship. There's no need for me to rush trying to get into a preseason game. My focus is getting 100% so when the season starts and it's go time, I'll be ready."