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Dwight Howard says his back still feels “achy”

Mike Brown, Dwight Howard

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, left, talks with head coach Mike Brown during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


Dwight Howard will walk out on to the floor for the tip off of the NBA season Tuesday night, just like he and Lakers management — not to mention Lakers fans — wanted when they traded for him despite off-season back surgery.

But don’t mistake that for his back feeling 100 percent.

Howard told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register not to confuse playing with being fully healed.

“My back’s strong enough, but it’s not about strength at this point,” said Howard, who had spinal surgery for a herniated disk on April 20. “It’s about endurance.”

“There are still days where it’s real achy,” Howard said, “and hard to move. And I just try to fight through it.”

This all comes back to Lakers coach Mike Brown, he has a lot of star players he has to manage minutes for — Steve Nash and his back, Kobe Bryant and his foot (and knee and...), Pau Gasol coming off the Olympics and Howard and his back. This has not been Brown’s strong suit in Cleveland or last season in Los Angeles (Kobe and Gasol racked up heavy minutes) but this year he needs to think more like Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich. Rest guys now to have them right when it matters.

You can’t have Howard talking about an achy back in May and June, when Brown and the Lakers will really be judged.