Lakers' Jordan Hill at practice

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill returned to practice Thursday, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back.

Hill was not cleared for any contact and will not play in the Lakers' exhibition game in Las Vegas against the Sacramento Kings on Friday. But if his recovery continues to progress as hoped, he remains on track to return by the Lakers' season opener Oct. 30.

Hill said previously that he wouldn't need surgery to repair the disk.

Lakers coach Mike Brown said he was somewhat surprised by how much Hill, who has been working on only his core strength since suffering the injury Oct. 6, was able to do Thursday.

"We did a warm-up drill where you're required to run, not necessarily at 100 percent speed, but you've got to get out and go a little bit. And he got out and ran," Brown said. "I was surprised they let him do that. It was good to see."

Hill is the Lakers' top reserve big man. His absence, as well as that of power forward Earl Clark (groin) and center Dwight Howard (back) from exhibition games, has left the Lakers' frontcourt thin.

The Lakers lost 114-80 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night without Howard, Hill, Clark and Pau Gasol, who sat out because he appeared "fatigued" to Brown.

Brown said Howard, Hill and Clark were out for Friday's game in Las Vegas but that no other starters were scheduled to sit. Previously Kobe Bryant, along with Gasol, has sat out exhibition games.

Although Hill wasn't able to scrimmage or do any of the contact drills Thursday, Brown said it was important for him to get back on the court as the Lakers install their new offensive schemes and refine what they want to do defensively.

"For us, the way we're playing, he's got to know specific routes and reads," Brown said of Hill. "There's a lot that he's got to still do to catch up."