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Dwight Howard to return from ankle injury tonight against Spurs

The big man hopes to pick up where he left off when he returns from a three-game absence tonight against the Spurs.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard will return to the lineup for tonight's important road tilt in San Antonio according to the Houston Chronicle.

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff told the Chron's Jonathan Feigen that his starting center went through shootaround and expects to play. Howard likely won't be playing the big minutes he was before he went down with the tweaked ankle — he might still work his way back up to that — but any help he can provide against the Spurs will be much needed.

Howard was playing his best basketball of the season before spraining an ankle in the first minute against the Pistons and was riding a streak of 10 consecutive double-doubles, his longest in five years. Before the injury, Howard was averaging 19.4 points and 14.8 rebounds in 37.5 minutes per game in the month of January, and the absence of a reliable scoring threat down low was evident in the Rockets' squeaker Monday night against the Pelicans.

Howard also will be playing his first game this season with the newly reacquired Josh Smith. Although there are some questions as to what the Rockets' starting lineup should and will be tonight with Dwight's return, you can expect to see the duo on the court together fairly often in the hopes they can replicate last season's cornucopia of alley-oops and 4-5 pick-and-roll success.

This is some great news for the Rockets as they look to go 4-0 in J-Smoove Era 2.0 against a tough opponent and follow that up with a game in Oklahoma City on Friday.