Dwight Howard isn't Dwight Howard.

He's not the dunk-tastic, shot-blocking force of energy under the basket that he used to be.

But why? The Lakers center continues to point to back surgery last April to repair a herniated disk.

"It's one of the biggest factors," Howard said after practice Saturday. "Coming off the injury, I only had four weeks to get ready for the season, which was training camp and then preseason. I didn't really have a chance to really get in good shape. It's hard trying to get in shape during the season playing a lot of minutes and traveling."

So, is he getting where he wants to be physically?

"I'm not even close," he said. "I used to play 45, 48 minutes without really getting tired. Now I have five possessions, I'm winded. I just know how much more effective I will be in better shape and that just comes with time. Unfortunately, it cost us a lot of games, but we've got an opportunity to make history. I'm going to try and do whatever I can to help this team win."