Howard, who averages 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds, has missed three straight games. The eight-time All-Star had a procedure to remove a cyst from the ankle Tuesday.
The Rockets said before Saturday night's game that Omer Asik would start at center.
- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 22, 2014
Howard returned to practice Friday and participated in Saturday morning's shootaround. He played in each of Houston's first 66 games, but the ankle had been bothering him for several weeks. Howard was a late scratch Monday, had the cyst removed the following day and didn't play Thursday.
"I don't think he feels quite good enough to play, but he feels much better," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said before Saturday's game.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.