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Friday, February 1, 2013
Dwight Howard sitting out Friday

By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lakers star center Dwight Howard will not play in Friday's game against the Timberwolves and will return to Los Angeles to undergo the increasingly popular platelet-rich plasma therapy on his ailing right shoulder, the team announced.

Howard had aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder in the Lakers' loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

"Will the shot take all the pain away? That I don't know," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said before the Lakers tipped off against the Wolves on Friday. "But you can play right away (after it)."

Earlier at shootaround, D'Antoni said, "He said there was pain in there, so he'll play when there's no pain."

The team said that Dr. Steven Yoon will perform the procedure Saturday. The procedure consists of centrifuging the patient's blood to isolate platelets and growth factors. The mix is injected into the injured area to accelerate healing. There are mixed reports on the efficacy of the treatment.

After the procedure, Howard will rejoin the team in Detroit. The Lakers will then measure Howard's pain level upon his return and determine whether he can play Sunday against the Pistons based on that evaluation. He is listed as day to day for that game and the remaining four games on the current trip.

The previous time Howard sat out because of the shoulder injury, he missed three games, and the Lakers went 0-3. D'Antoni wasn't sure when he would play.

"I don't think they know only because you just don't know when the pain goes away," D'Antoni said. "Now, he said it felt a little bit like the first time (he hurt it), which leads to three games, but I don't think he knows. I don't think anybody knows."

Howard was evaluated Thursday in Minneapolis by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. Howard spent Friday's shootaround session undergoing stretching exercises for the shoulder with Dr. Judy Seto, the team's head physical therapist.

"He'll be reexamined every hour almost, every day," D'Antoni said. "We'll do treatment on it and whatever it takes to get him back as quick as we can ... We won't shut him down. Even if we shut him down (the injury) is always going to be there. Even if we shut him down for two months, it's still going to be there. The next time he gets hit, it's going to hurt him. It's a pain thing."

Pau Gasol will start in Howard's place. Wolves guard Ricky Rubio, Gasol's teammate on the Spanish national team, told reporters Thursday that Gasol was being mistreated by being asked to come off the bench and it seemed as if the Lakers "don't want him."

"When (Rubio) gets a team that he can coach, then he can make that decision," D'Antoni said. "Come on."

Gasol, who has expressed his frustration about going to the bench, joked that it was "big news" that he would be back starting against Minnesota.

"I think this year has been a lot going on in different ways," Gasol said. "It hasn't been a lot of fun, mainly because of the losing. But dealing with injuries also and struggling as a team and probing to get to the right formula for the team, it's been difficult. Still, I'm a valuable piece, I still consider myself one of the best out there, but it's a game where you can't be too self-centered and selfish.

"You have to put the team first and have to make it work somehow and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to make it work and I'm trying not to be a negative influence at all."

While Rubio backed Gasol, Kobe Bryant defended USA Basketball teammate and Wolves power forward Kevin Love when he was asked about Wolves fans who believe Minnesota would be better off without him.

"I agree," Bryant said with a smile. "You can send him our way."

Bryant said the backlash Love has received for criticizing the Wolves' front office is "idiotic" and described Love as "just an outgoing dude, hard worker, very intelligent and just a team guy."

Howard aggravated the shoulder injury midway through the fourth quarter of Wednesday's 92-86 loss. The seven-time All-Star fell to the floor in pain after being blocked by Suns guard Shannon Brown with 6:57 remaining.

Howard checked out of the game and did not return as the Lakers squandered a 13-point lead. After icing his shoulder and applying kinesiology tape to the joint, Howard told reporters he was "real sore" and "hurting pretty bad."

Although he acknowledged Wednesday that he may have to rest his shoulder, Howard had said he wanted to try to play against the Wolves.

"I'm going to try as much as I can, but I don't want to cause more damage to my shoulder," Howard said. "I don't want to (miss any games), but we'll see."

When asked whether he would have to consider surgery to repair his shoulder, Howard replied, "Not right now."

The 6-foot-11 Howard originally injured his shoulder Jan. 4 against the Los Angeles Clippers. He aggravated the injury last week against the Memphis Grizzlies and sat out the remainder of that game, but did not miss any subsequent games.

Bryant said Wednesday that he has played through shoulder injuries in the past, and it will be an adjustment that Howard has to make.

"I'm not worried about it," Bryant said. "It is going to be an all-season thing. That's how those types of injuries are with the labrum. I've had them before. ... It's one of those things when you get banged like that going up, you're going to get that stinging sensation. That's just how it's going to be."