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Dwight Howard returns to Rockets after two months out with injured knee

Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard reacts during the first

Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard reacts during the first half in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. Photo Credit: AP / David J. Phillip

NEW ORLEANS - Houston's Dwight Howard has returned from a 26-game absence, starting Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 6-foot-11 center contributed immediately, taking a no-look pass from James Harden on the baseline and throwing down a powerful one-handed dunk for the Rockets' first points.

Howard, who is 29 and in his 11th season, had not played since Jan. 23, when he went out with a right knee injury. In 32 games this season, he has averaged 16.3 points and 11 rebounds.

He has returned against a Pelicans squad desperate to string enough victories together to sneak into the playoffs after returning from a winless three-game road trip.

New Orleans had two starters return against Houston: guard Tyreke Evans and center Omer Asik.

Evans missed the Pelicans' previous game with sprained left ankle, while Asik missed two games with strained right calf.

New York Sports