Lakers planning for Dwight Howard to play Sunday

Marc J. Spears
Yahoo Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have targeted Sunday's preseason game against the Sacramento Kings for Dwight Howard to make his debut, several sources told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night.

Barring any complications with Howard's back over the next couple days, the Lakers are optimistic the All-Star center will make their first appearance for them on Sunday.

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of NBA.com]

View photo

.

Dwight Howard has so far been confined to cheering on the Lakers in the preseason. (AP)

"He is making progress," one Lakers source told Yahoo! Sports. "There is a good chance he can play Sunday."

Howard has been sidelined since having surgery in April to repair a herniated disk. He's not expected to play against the Kings on Friday in Las Vegas. The Lakers would like Howard to play in two of their three remaining preseason games after Friday, sources said. But they're hesitant to play him in both games of a back-to-back Wednesday and Thursday.

[Related: Kobe's got A-Rod's back]

Howard hasn't had any setbacks in practices since training camp began. If he has another strong workout on Saturday, team doctors are expected to clear him to play Sunday.

Howard would like to get some game experience with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash before the Lakers' Oct. 30 season opener against the Dallas Mavericks.

"I'll be a little nervous out there for the first time, but [Nash] said he would help me through it and hopefully it will be OK," Howard told reporters after Thursday's practice.

Yahoo! Sports' NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski contributed to this story.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Tigers must wait for full applause after sweeping Yankees | Photos
Another – yes, another – blue chip recruit has UK on verge of best class ever
Kevin Iole: Dana White failed in not making Jones-Silva happen
Y! Screen: The best – and worst – tequilas