Friday October 24th, 2014

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard received stitches for a cut on his arm and will not play in Friday's preseason finale against the San Antonio Spurs, Jenny Dial Creech of The Houston Chronicle reports.

Creech reports Howard's cut did not come from either practice or a game.

Howard, 28, is entering his second season with the Rockets after averaging 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks last season. He upped his play in the postseason to average 26.0 points, 13.7 rebounds and 2.8 blocks during Houston's seven-game series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

After being slowed by his recovery from a 2012 back injury, Howard has drawn praise during the preseason for his conditioning. Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon said Howard is "looking for an MVP year" this season. Teammate Trevor Ariza, who played with Howard during his time in Orlando, said he is more athletic now than ever before.

• Magic's Oladipo out indefinitely with facial fracture

Ariza will replace Chandler Parsons in the Rockets' starting lineup after Parsons left as a free agent to join the Dallas Mavericks.

The Rockets open the regular season on Tuesday against Howard's former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Celtics' Rondo (hand) cleared for full contact practice

- Paul Palladino

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.