Injury delays Howard’s debut

WASHINGTON Wizards center Dwight Howard shows readiness to suit up for the 2018-19 NBA season. But a bad back could hamper his Wizards debut. AP

NEW YORK — Dwight Howard’s first preseason with the Washington Wizards is apparently over before it started.

Howard needs an injection to alleviate pain in his back, and Washington coach Scott Brooks said that the eight-time All-Star has hopes of being back on the court by early next week.

If it takes that long, it means Howard won’t appear in any of Washington’s preseason games.

And if he doesn’t play in the preseason, that would cast doubt on Howard being ready when Washington’s regular-season slate starts against Miami on 18 Oct.

“We’re going to take it day by day,” Brooks told reporters before Washington’s preseason game at New York on Monday night.

Howard, who turns 33 in December, has always been durable.

He missed a total of seven games in his first seven seasons, and played in 81 of 82 games with Charlotte last season. The one game he missed was while he was serving a suspension — and the Hornets wound up beating Memphis that night by 61 points anyway.

But the back problems have kept Howard from practicing or playing with the Wizards so far in training camp and the preseason.

For his career, Howard has averaged 17.4 points and 12.7 rebounds — averaging a double-double in each of his 14 seasons as well.

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