Step one was Dwight Howard playing in pain. Step two will be Dwight Howard really playing in pain. Howard came back from his shoulder injury Thursday but didn't bring the sort of improved energy and defensive focus that he'd recently promised for the rest of the season. And so Howard failed to energize a Lakers team grinding through the middle of their season-long trip amid news that Pau Gasol will be lost at least six or eight weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. The Lakers offered little resistance against the Boston Celtics and lost, 116-95. Howard said he had no setbacks with shoulder. Asked postgame if he's back for good, he said: "We'll see how I feel tomorrow." Howard missed the previous three games – all victories with Gasol's help – after aggravating the torn labrum in his right shoulder. Howard wore a protective shirt inside his jersey upon returning and didn't show visible reaction to pain, but he was reluctant to bang in the paint at either end. He still got into foul trouble in the third quarter, and without his paint presence, Boston partied like it was Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in building a 95-69 lead entering the fourth. Howard's teammates did not appear fired up by his presence, in part because he didn't bring much activity to rally around. Regarding Howard improving, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said: "He has to. We don't have a whole lot of other solutions."