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Lakers' Howard cleared to play

Doctors confirms there is no further damage in Lakers center Dwight Howard's shoulder.

According to the Lakers, Dwight Howard has been cleared to play Friday after seeing a shoulder specialist.


Dr. James Tibone examined Howard on Thursday, confirming "there is no further damage," after Howard re-aggravated the shoulder on Wednesday night as the Lakers lost in Memphis to the Grizzlies 106-93.


Originally injured on Jan. 4 by Caron Butler of the Clippers, Howard made it through one more game before sitting three with what was originally called a torn labrum.


Howard later clarified that the labrum itself was not torn but stripped from the bone.


The Lakers will start Pau Gasol at center in Howard's place. Howard has sat just the three games this season, all defeats.


The Lakers will host the Utah Jazz at Staples Center, a team they've lost to four times this year (including preseason).


Friday will be the final meeting between the Lakers (17-25) and Jazz (23-19). Given the six-games separating the two teams, it seems unlikely the Lakers have any real chance at overtaking the seventh-seeded Jazz.


-Eric Pincus