Howard: “It’s PREEE season”

After Thursday’s loss in San Diego, L.A.’s eighth in as many preseason games, Dwight Howard wasn’t exactly concerned.

In fact, when asked why the team didn’t win a game, his response was simple:

“It’s PREEEEEE season!”, he exclaimed.

He was of the opinion that excuses don’t really need to be made – as they would after a regular season loss that actually counted – but there are a few obvious reasons for L.A.’s lack of W’s:

- Injuries/Minutes: Howard played in only two games, one of which came without Kobe Bryant, who missed the final two himself; Jordan Hill missed five games; Pau Gasol took one game off and Steve Nash played limited minutes.

- With the stars being in and out, L.A. had even more trouble adjusting to the new systems the players are learning. The offensive additions from assistant Eddie Jordan are one thing, but players like Howard, Nash, Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks are also learning a new defensive system.

- L.A.’s opponents happened to exclusively be young Western Conference squads who collectively view the Lakers as a primary rival, with Utah, Golden State, Portland, the Clippers and Sacramento all loving nothing more than scoring more points than the Lakers.

The turnovers, offensive boards conceded and so on all come in concert with those reasons, but nonetheless, the players and coaches know very well that much better play will be needed come Tuesday. Until then, here’s a summary of what else Howard had to say after the last preseason game:

Q: On how he feels physically:
Howard: I feel pretty good after the game – a little sore, but that’s expected. Just trying to continue to learn the offense and for all of us to play out of the offense has been tough for us but we’re getting it. It’s going to take some time so everybody needs to bear with us during this process. I told the guys: ‘This is a process and we’re not going to get this overnight, and we’re playing for June.’ We always have to remember that. We have to stay focused and realize what our goal is at the end of the season.

Q: On the turnover problem:
Howard: We’re trying to learn the offense and in that process, we’re thinking so much about what spots we need to be in and little things (like that). I told the guys: ‘Don’t get frustrated – I know it’s tough. But control the things we can control, which is how hard we play.’ The offense and all that stuff will come, so we can’t get frustrated.

Q: On his excitement level to start the season opener:
Howard: I’m excited to just get back out there. This was my second game back and I didn’t really expect to start playing this early, but I’m thankful to have this opportunity. Like I said it’s a process for us. We don’t expect to win every game, but we do expect – about midseason – everybody will have the offense down and we’ll be (clicking).

Q: On how his back feels:
Howard: I really didn’t get a chance to get a couple practices in before today’s game, but I was a little off with the timing and everything. All that stuff will come, though. It’s a process for all of us and for me. I’m not expecting to be 100 percent right now, but I’m expecting to be full force when it’s playoff time.

Q: On how he feels where he’s at defensively:
Howard: Still a step slow, but just trying to get my timing down and understanding how guys are going to play. It’s a great test to go up against guys who can shoot the ball well for bigs and are physical. I’m not too focused on the outcome of tonight’s game, but how can we grow? Take the positives out of this loss and how we can get better.

Q: On what the rest has done for him:
Howard: After the games I’m going to be sore and tight, but that’s just the process I have to do to get back into it. I’m still rehabbing on a daily basis and that’s not going to stop. Once you feel like you’re fine, that’s when you tend to get more injuries. For me, I just want to continue to rehab and keep going through the process because I don’t want to ever stop building what I’ve accomplished so far.