Dwight Howard Injury Update: Confirmed Out Another Month
They began the week with practice time; a rarity given it was the first time the Rockets had two consecutive days off since the signing of Josh Smith. It was also hoped last week would offer the opportunity to gain an edge on the Southwest Division with games versus Dallas followed by two lower seeded Eastern foes. The problem was they would have to do it without the services of Dwight Howard who had turned his ankle in the game versus the Suns.
Howard appeared for practice, but shortly afterward it was reported he had tweaked the ankle again. Then news slowly filtered out he was once again experiencing edema (swelling/fluid build-up) on his troublesome right knee. The Rockets took the Texas State contest Wednesday giving them a 2-0 season series lead meaning they can do no worse than tie them this season and then embarked on their 2-game Eastern mini-trip without Howard. They successfully extended their win streak in Boston, but the next night in Detroit the size of their front court and absence of Howard proved too large an obstacle to overcome.
Reports varied prior to confirmation Howard would miss substantial time:
Over the weekend it was reported Howard could miss a week to ten days to rest the ailing knee and although there was no structural damage the team was going to pursue additional testing and clarification on the prognosis for how long he would be out.
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Monday on NBA TV’s The Beat, Rocket’s General Manager Daryl Morey was a guest and confirmed no surgery would be required, but alternative treatment methods which would expedite healing would be pursued.
Today we learned via John Schuhmann of nba.com Howard had visited Dr. Walt Lowe this morning receiving a bone marrow aspirate injection.
This morning Dr. Walt Lowe of the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute conducted a bone marrow aspirate injection on Rockets center Dwight Howard’s right knee. Howard will begin rehabilitation immediately and will be re-evaluated in approximately four weeks.
Now Howard will begin post treatment therapy and rehab to strengthen the knee which will be re-evaluated in a month. Assuming that month is set in stone it would mean the team will be without his services until March 4th. Coincidentally, the next time the Rockets face Southwest Division leaders: the Memphis Grizzlies is March 4th.
ESPN sources say Rockets star center Dwight Howard likely to miss at least a month. Linkage —> http://t.co/aOPgynzdi3
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 1, 2015
The period between now and then features 12-games, a low number given the All Star Game and extended break of 9-days this year. Still, this is a pivotal time frame for the Rockets who’ll face above-.500 teams Chicago, Milwaukee, Portland, Phoenix, L.A. Clippers (twice), Dallas, Toronto, Cleveland and Atlanta. In fact the only sub-.500 teams they’ll play is Minnesota and Brooklyn. Quite a difficult stretch which will also feature the trade deadline of February 19th.
Free Throws: 6.9 (second for centers)
Free Throw Percent: 52.7%
Field Goal Percent: 57.5% (fourth for centers)
Record with and without Howard:
With Howard in the line-up the Rockets are 22 – 10
Without Howard in the line-up the Rockets are 11 – 5
Tallying the winning percent showcases the team performs exactly the same with or without Howard in the line-up at 68.75%. However those totals don’t factor in an 11-game stretch with such strong competition. What doesn’t appear in these numbers are the things Howard does off the stat sheet, like block the paint and protect the rim. As the Pistons proved large teams could prove to be worrisome without his services.
What remains in question is how Howard will respond to this alternative treatment and if he’ll be able to return in exactly a month. Moreover can the team sustain a top seed without his services and will GM Daryl Morey make a move to shore up the resources in Howard’s absence.
On the Beat, Morey was definitive when asked what the team’s goals this season were:
At the end of the day to win the title, which is our goal, you’ve got to be one of the top teams. There is no easy path to winning the title, obviously in the West it’s a little bit harder, but this way we’re more tested going into the playoffs.
We’ll stay on top of Howard’s progress monitoring updates as they are reported. In the interim the Rockets will start that tough 11-game stretch versus the Bulls tonight when they look to atone for the loss January 5th. Since beating the Rockets the Bulls have had their own issues posting a 5-9 record losing to teams like Orlando, Utah and the Lakers but raising their game to beat top clubs like the Warriors, San Antonio and Dallas. Let’s hope they view a Howard-less Rocket club as less of a threat given that trend.