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Dwight Howard to play against Celtics Thursday

Feb 7, 2013, 6:50 PM EDT

Dwight Howard AP

Apparently Kobe Bryant‘s message about needing to play through pain if you are going to lead an elite franchise got through to Dwight Howard. Well, at least a little bit. Howard will just say he was healed and ready.

Dwight Howard will suit up and start for the Lakers against the Boston Celtics Thursday. It was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, and later confirmed by the Lakers themselves.

It wasn’t really a surprise, Howard went through the Lakers shootaround earlier today, saying he would likely play if he didn’t have any setbacks with his shoulder.

Howard is trying to play through a tear in his labrum, a shoulder injury that is painful when pressure or torque is applied to the shoulder. In Howard’s case he is fouled a lot around the basket — because he can’t hit free throws consistently — and each time he does there is pressure on that shoulder. It hurts. It’s just that Kobe expects him to play through it because, well, Kobe’s played through worse.

Howard has said before he learned a lesson from last season when he tried to play through back pain for the Magic and made the situation worse. He had surgery on his back but that is not yet fully healed. Thursday Howard went on a rant about taking care of himself and his career.

Howard came to Los Angeles wanting to be a bigger star in a bigger market. This is what it’s like Dwight — your every move is questioned if you’re not winning. You’r expected to lead by playing through adversity and pain, and playing well. So far the Lakers aren’t winning with you in the lineup and until that changes Lakers fans and media will have a lot of questions.

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