Dwight Howard may skip preseason

FRESNO, Calif. -- Dwight Howard was the only Los Angeles Lakers player out of uniform Sunday as he sported a bow tie and turtle-framed glasses on the sideline of the Lakers' preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors.

After telling reporters earlier in the week that he would "hopefully"
play at some point in the preseason, the All-Star center backed off his stance somewhat.

"I'm on track (to return), but my goal wasn't to play (in) a preseason game," said Howard, who continues to recover from offseason back surgery. "My goal is to win a championship. That's what we're shooting for."

Lakers coach Mike Brown said he has not had any conversations with Howard about a specific preseason game he is targeting as a return date. The Lakers have seven preseason games remaining on their schedule, with the next one coming Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario, Calif.

"He couldn't play here today and so whenever they tell me he can play, he'll play," Brown said, referring to the Lakers training staff and doctors that need to sign off on Howard's health.

Howard said he is working on strengthening his entire body before he will be ready to take his place in the lineup.

"I'm a hard worker," Howard said. "My back just has to get stronger and I have to get everything that surrounds it stronger too so I can play at a high level. That's my goal. That's my focus. Like I said, I want to give these guys everything and give the game of basketball everything because at the end of the year I want to hold up the trophy, so I want to make sure I'm 100 percent."

Added Brown: "I don't know what I'm looking at, I just know watching him, he looks good. What does that mean? It doesn't really mean anything, but he does look good in practice."