Dwight Howard cleared to play

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers finally received some good news on Thursday.

Dwight Howard, who aggravated his right shoulder injury in Wednesday's game at Memphis, was examined Thursday in Los Angeles by shoulder specialist Dr. James Tibone, who confirmed there is no further damage and cleared the center to play.

Howard is expected to start when the Lakers host the Utah Jazz on Friday.

Howard aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder while trying to fight through a screen by the Grizzlies' Rudy Gay with 2:21 remaining in the second quarter Wednesday. He left the game and did not return.

"It felt real bad," Howard said. "I didn't want to try to play through it because I didn't want to hurt it any worse, so (the Lakers' training staff) asked me not to play.

"I still feel it. It's still aggravated. It's something that I'm going to have to learn how to cope with. The biggest thing is just getting it stronger so it won't continue to bother me."

Howard recently missed three games with the torn labrum after originally hurting the shoulder when he got tangled up with Caron Butler during the Lakers' 107-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 4. The Lakers went 0-3 without him.

"It was pretty much good. I was doing all the (rehabilitation) work with it every day and then this happened," Howard said Wednesday.

Howard finished with just two points and two rebounds while going 0-of-4 from the field in 14 minutes against the Grizzlies.

The Lakers are 2-4 since the nine-year veteran returned after the three-game absence.

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.