The sting over a busted lip that required three stitches quickly evaporated for Dwight Howard.

But two weeks after taking an elbow to the face from Golden State forward David Lee, Howard will meet him for the first time since then when the Lakers (42-37) host the Warriors (45-33) tonight at Staples Center. And the story line involves more than just if the Lakers can extend their one-game lead over the Utah Jazz (41-38) for the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot with three games remaining.

Will Howard follow through on his immediate pledge suggesting retaliation?

"He got away with a shot," Howard said at the time. "I will remember this game. I will remember that shot. He said he wasn't trying to do it. You can look at the play and see it for yourself. I will take care of it later."

Or will Howard let his play do the talking?

Howard backtracked his comments two days later by saying "I'm not going to do anything stupid the next time we play to jeopardize myself, to jeopardize the team or jeopardize his career."

The NBA also retroactively assessed Lee with a flagrant foul type 1.

Howard sounded incredulous over playing Lee again.

"You guys turned it into something else. I said, 'I'll remember it,' " Howard said. "That's all I said. It doesn't mean I want to come out MMA style and wrestle him."

So what will Howard do?

"My mindset is we need a win," he said. "It doesn't matter who we play. We play the way we need to play, we'll win the game."