The Rockets are getting healthy.
First, Patrick Beverley returned to practice and is expected to rejoin the rotation tonight. Now we learn that Dwight Howard has officially been cleared for the upcoming back-to back set on Sunday-Monday, according to ESPN's Calvin Watkins.
Howard sat one game of every back-to-back so far this season as he worked himself into shape from back and knee injuries. He will play against both the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons over the weekend. Though it appears the team will be cautious with his minutes. Howard told Watkins:
"They want to make sure I don't kill myself in both games. So maybe 20-25 minutes each night until the season gets better. Right now, the main thing is making sure I stay in shape, stay strong, and stay healthy."
The Rockets are coming off a 3-day break in which coach J.B. Bickerstaff ran an intense "mini-camp" to hopefully change attitude, discipline and game strategy moving forward, and now with the team almost at full strength, there doesn't seem to be a better time to go on a run.
With reports that Donatas Motiejuas, the final piece in 100 percent healthy roster, will return to the court in December, the Rockets have a golden opportunity to turn their season around.
Howard's been one of the few Rockets bright spots this season (despite what you'll hear from some talking heads), as he's averaged 13.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on 62.5 percent shooting and has looked at times like he's the only Rocket playing defense.
Having him available night-in and night-out should be a major boost, and Dwight sounds like he's eager and ready to go, telling Watkins:
"I'm ready to try it out. They didn't want me to start off the season playing back-to-backs and putting a big load on myself. But my body is feeling pretty good and I haven't had any setbacks all season. We're looking forward to it.
"I'm looking forward to it even though I won't be playing as many minutes as I would in a regular game, just being out there and being able to battle two nights in a row."
I think we're all looking forward to it.