There have been several reasons why the Lakers haven’t played up to their potential thus far this season, but an important one is Dwight Howard’s health, or lack thereof. The Lakers big man told USA Today he’s still working his way back: “Howard is well aware that the Lakers’ demise comes with a ripple effect, his name as the best defender in the game dishonored a little more with every hapless defensive effort. For all the silliness that never stops with Howard, he has no shortage of pride. What he doesn’t have and so badly needs, however, is the physical capability to play like the dominant force he’s been for most of eight seasons. Howard is progressing quickly these days, but he said he’s still feeling the effects of the April surgery to repair a herniated disk. In other words, Dwight Howard still isn’t Dwight Howard just yet. ‘I’m still in that process,’ Howard said in an extensive interview with USA TODAY Sports at the team’s practice facility. ‘People don’t understand that. They just come out and see me make a couple dunks and blocks and say, ‘Oh, he’s back.’ But it does take a while for all this stuff to heal. This is not something easy, so I understand that. It will come.’ … ‘Tingling in my legs all the way down to my feet,’ Howard said as he described his current state. “There’s times when sometimes I really can’t even feel my feet. (The doctors) said that’s going to happen. It takes at least nine months for you to get strength back in your legs and all that stuff. So I’m still in that process.’”