Howard out vs. Denver, ankle feeling better

Howard out vs. Denver, ankle feeling better
April 5, 2014, 1:45 pm
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(USA Today Images)

Dwight Howard won’t play Sunday – neither will Pat Beverley (knee) – but the Rockets’ big man is working his way back.

On Saturday, Howard said he did some more running on the treadmill and his left ankle, which has forced him to sit out the last four straight games, is feeling “a lot better.”  

“The best thing I can do is some little ankle moves, do some pull work, run on the treadmill,” he said. “We’re going to try to ramp in up in the next couple of days, see how it feels.”

Howard needed to have fluid drained from the ankle while the Rockets were on the road but hasn’t needed to get it drained again, which is a good sign for the Rockets.

“It’s day-to-day. I don’t have a certain day I want to be back,” Howard said. “I just want to make sure that I’m healthy for the playoffs; that’s the biggest thing. I don’t want to play again right now and hurt it and have to sit out some more games. We’re going to need each other for the playoffs. I think myself and Pat, our goal is that we’re 100 percent for the playoffs.”

Howard has played in 68 of the Rockets’ 75 games this season. He’s missed seven of the last nine because of his troublesome left ankle. The Rockets are 4-3 in the seven games without Howard this season after Friday night’s win.

Right now for Howard, it’s about finding a balance. He wants to make it back on the court as quickly as possible but he also wants to make sure he’s healthy when the playoffs begin. The Rockets hold the fourth seed with seven games to go in the regular season.

“They’re going to play when they’re ready to play,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said of Howard and Beverley. “And I don’t know when that is but I know it’s not (Sunday).”

While no one knows when Howard will return and while the big man said he doesn’t have a date set in mind, he did say he would ideally like to return for a game or two before the regular season ends.

“No doubt,” Howard said. “Being in game shape is a lot different than being on the treadmill or just doing sprints on the court. So we want to get back out there and get a good feel for the game, have the guys get accustomed to us being back out there because we’ve been missing a couple games. So it’s very important that we get healed up but also get back on the floor.”