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Dwight Howard injury: Lakers' center cleared for 5 on 5 action

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard has been cleared to participate in full team drills.

Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

Dwight Howard has been cleared to play 5-on-5 ball in limited minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he will sit out Wednesday's preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the team reports.

Offseason back surgery kept Howard out of practices until last Tuesday, when he returned in a non-limited role. Before the preseason game against the Golden State Warriors, Howard wouldn't bite on a timetable for his return, telling the Daily News that he would only return when he was 100-percent healthy.

The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year has been participating in all aspects of practice, including 5-on-5 drills, according to the team website. He has been held out of scrimmages.

Howard averaged 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season for the Orlando Magic. He underwent back surgery at the end of April to fix a herniated disk.

The next chance for the Lakers to potentially debut their starting center will be Saturday against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. In any case, Howard has maintained that he would like to be ready for the first regular season game.

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