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Frank Vogel says Dwight Howard will be available vs. Rockets on Thursday, LeBron James is probable

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The Lakers will get Dwight Howard back on Thursday, but they might not use him against the super-small Rockets.

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DENVER NUGGETS VS LOS ANGELES LAKERS, NBA REGULAR SEASON Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post

After sitting out of Tuesday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets with a stomach illness, Dwight Howard will be available when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on Thursday, Frank Vogel told reporters after practice on Wednesday.

Howard has been available for 62 of the 63 games the Lakers have played this season, which is a stark contrast from last season, when he only appeared in nine games for the Washington Wizards due to a back injury. In the 62 games Howard has played this season, he’s averaged 7.5 points per game on 73.2% shooting from the field, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while averaging 19.2 minutes per game.

Howard’s efficient production on both ends of the floor is a big part of the reason why the Lakers have been able to get away with keeping a traditional center on the floor at all times this season. However, there are a few teams that the Lakers haven’t been able to use their towering centers against this season, and the Rockets are one of them.

In their last meeting on Feb. 6, the Lakers played JaVale McGee and Howard a combined 20:28 because they couldn’t keep up with the Rockets’ super-small front court of Robert Covington, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, all of whom are 3-point shooters that can defend the perimeter. The Lakers can try to play bully ball with McGee and Howard again on Thursday, but it’s more likely that they’ll experiment with a few small-ball lineups of their own featuring Anthony Davis or Markieff Morris at center.

In addition to Howard, the Lakers have listed Alex Caruso (left hand contusion), LeBron James (sore left groin) and Anthony Davis as probable (sore left elbow). Tip-off between the Lakers and Rockets is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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