Rockets C Howard (ankle) expected to sit out again

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CLEVELAND (AP) - Rockets center Dwight Howard is expected to sit out Houston’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a sore left ankle.

Howard, who averages 18.6 points and 12.4 rebounds, had missed the previous two games. The eight-time All-Star had a procedure to remove a cyst from the ankle Tuesday.

The Rockets said before Saturday night’s game that Omer Asik would start at center, but didn’t officially rule out Howard.

The big man returned to practice Friday and participated in Saturday morning’s shootaround. He played in each of Houston’s first 66 games, but the ankle had been bothering him for several weeks. Howard was a late scratch Monday, had the cyst removed the following day and didn’t play Thursday.

The Cavaliers are without two starters, point guard Kyrie Irving (strained left biceps) and forward Luol Deng (sprained left knee).

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