Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard on Saturday said part of the reason why his new team has lost more games than in any full season since 2007 is Howard himself.
"You've got to have energy and I want to bring that energy every night," Howard told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "That's my job. They count on me to be that guy. I just know how much more effective I will be when I'm in better shape. And, unfortunately, it's cost us a lot of games."
While Howard said his conditioning has gotten better, he admitted he's "not even close" to where he should be, particularly after undergoing back surgery last offseason.
"I knew that would be a process. The better shape I'm in, the more active I can be and the more I'm able to do on the floor," he said. "But it was a struggle at first because I just didn't have it in the tank, especially on defense."
Although there wasn't much more he could do because he had to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation, Howard said the six-month layoff after undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back last April ultimately cost him because he wasn't able to do much physically before training camp opened in October.
"I didn't have a chance to really get in good shape," he said. "And then it's hard trying to get in shape during the season, playing a lot of minutes and traveling. It's very tough. But I'm trying to do the best I can with what I have and work on my conditioning every day.
"I don't want to pace myself. I want to be able to go all out, but you've got to be in great shape to do that," he said. "I know what I've been able to do in the past and I know right now I'm not able to do that for a whole game. That comes with time. But I'm not going to get discouraged. Once I get tired I'm going to ask for a blow, take a break, then get back out there and go hard again."