Dwight Howard out at least two games with swelling in his knee

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Dwight Howard left the Rockets’ win over the Suns on Friday with an ankle injury and has missed Houston’s last two games.

But the center has even bigger problems.

Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle:

Howard will be evaluated over the next few days but will not travel with the team on its road trip to Boston and Detroit.

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Howard strained his knee earlier in the season, had plasma therapy and missed 11 straight games.

Ben Wedro of MD Direct provided context:

“Edema is a fancy word for swelling of tissue due to fluid accumulation. For Howard, that could mean fluid in the joint that might be consistent with a meniscus (cartilage) or ligament tear. Or it could be in the lining or synovium of the joint that would go along with nonspecific inflammation or it could be due to swelling in the muscles that surround the joint. Edema can also be seen within the bone due to a bruise or occult (hidden) microfracture.”

Wedro added the Rockets didn’t reveal enough information to predict how long Howard will be sidelined.

The Rockets have managed fine without Howard, going 22-10 with him and 10-4 without him.

But they’re clearly better with the at-times-dominant center who’s averaging 16.3 points and 11.0 rebounds.

Houston scores more points per 100 possessions (104.3 vs. 102.7) and allows fewer (97.4 vs. 101.1) when Howard is on the court.

James Harden is playing like an MVP candidate, and that gives the Rockets some breathing room. But if they’re going to make a playoff run, they need Howard healthy.