By the time Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard was done talking from his kitchen table chair in his Bel Air home, telling his side of his story that is being revisited because of Tuesday's reunion game in Orlando, the familiar tingling in both of his legs had returned.

The player once known as Superman, whose back surgery in April turned him into Clark Kent for several months and whose uncertain future has been an NBA hot topic for so long now, was reminded yet again that he's not himself just yet. He's getting there, though, and the timing may wind up being just right.


With the Lakers' 90-81 win vs. the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on Sunday that was their 16th in the past 22 games, they finally reached playoff position in the Western Conference just as Howard is finally coming into his own. The Lakers are eighth in the conference and have their sights on moving up.

All those months that Howard was incapacitated, all that time spent going from his bed to the walker to the treadmill and back on the basketball court, and he is just now feeling like himself again. Since the All-Star break, Howard has averaged 15.5 points, 14.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. For the season, he is averaging 16.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 rebounds.

"We all believe, without a doubt, that we're going to make the playoffs," Howard said in an hour-long interview with USA TODAY Sports recently. "So I'm building up as much as I can. I don't know if I'm going to be a hundred percent in the playoffs, but I know I'll be in great shape. I'm going to do whatever I can geared towards being, in two months, in great shape."