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Dwight Howard expects to be nervous for first game as a Laker

The six-time All-Star center says he probably will be edgy because it is a new city and people are expecting a lot. Howard will not play in the Lakers' exhibition game against Sacramento on Friday.

October 19, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Center Dwight Howard is looking forward to his first action with the Lakers.
Center Dwight Howard is looking forward to his first action with the Lakers. (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)

Dwight Howard, jittery Laker?

It's true.

The six-time All-Star center and three-time NBA defensive player of the year said he would probably be edgy for his first game as a Laker, which won't come Friday in an exhibition against Sacramento at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

"Like I told Steve [Nash]," Howard said after practice Thursday, "I think I'll be a little nervous out there for the first time, but he said he would help me through it and hopefully it will be OK."

Howard said he gets nervous before every game because he doesn't want to lose, but this is different.

"New town, new city, I think everybody's expecting a lot out of this team and they're expecting a lot out of me," he said, "so I have to make sure I keep all of that out of my mind when I'm playing and just have fun."

Howard wasn't exactly jovial at the start of his session with reporters, who continued to inquire about his return from surgery in April to repair a herniated disk in his back.

"There's no point in you asking the same questions every day," said Howard, who is expected back before the Lakers' Oct. 30 season opener.

He slowly warmed as the questions continued, saying his return was largely contingent on improved conditioning.

"I don't want to go out there fatigued and injure something else, because most of the time that's when you have injuries," Howard said. "I don't want to take a step back. I've come too far from where I was at."

Asked about his supporting cast, Howard said he had previous experience playing alongside superstars.

Sort of.

"Actually, I played with 'Pistol' Pete on NBA Live back in the day," Howard said, referring to Hall of Fame member Pete Maravich. "That was the closest thing to Steve Nash."

What about Kobe Bryant?

"I played with Elgin Baylor in NBA2K12 last year," Howard said. "We were on the same team. It was pretty good. We won all the games."

And Pau Gasol?

"I don't think there's nobody like Pau," Howard said of the floppy-haired Spaniard. "But I think Pau was on 'Sesame Street' … the yellow bird."

They don't get it

The Lakers have been shut out in the preseason, going 0-4, and their fans know the feeling.

Millions of cable and satellite television customers have missed all four games because of a lingering fee dispute involving Time Warner Cable, the Lakers' TV partner.

Spokespeople for Time Warner Cable and for DirecTV, the largest satellite TV provider in Southern California, said negotiations were continuing but declined to say whether progress had been made.

"Lakers fans can be assured that we're actively engaged with Time Warner," DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said. "We want to carry the network in a way that is affordable for everyone, and by everyone we want to make sure that both Lakers fans and non-Lakers fans avoid any significant increases to their bills."

Etc.

Backup power forward Jordan Hill resumed noncontact drills, his first participation in practice since he learned he had a herniated disk in his back last week. He hopes to return for the season opener.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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