The bond between Lakers center Dwight Howard and Hawks forward Josh Smith goes back to their days growing up together in Atlanta and teaming up on the same AAU team.

With the Lakers (29-30) hosting the Atlanta Hawks (33-23) on Sunday at Staples Center, Howard conceding the two long-time friends have repeatedly talked about reliving those days and teaming up together.

"We have a couple of times," Howard said. "But unfortunately that hasn't happened."

Howard faced an uncertain future for the past two seasons, both with his hasty departure from the Orlando Magic last year and his public insistence this season he won't decide whether he'll re-sign with the Lakers this offseason until that moment comes.

Meanwhile, Smith has been the subject of endless trade rumors the past two seasons.

But before speculating on whether such a pairing would ever take place, Howard made one thing clear.

"We can't focus on that right now," Howard said. "We want to make the playoffs and make noise in the playoffs. My focus is solely on winning games and helping this team win a championship."

That's why Howard sounded noncommittal on whether he would get together with Smith before the game.