"It feels a little bit better, but still sore," Howard said. "Certain movements hurt, and I don't want to go out there in any pain or go out there thinking about it too much."
Pau Gasol started at center for the Lakers at Detroit. The Pistons were also short-handed. Spanish guard Jose Calderon, whom they acquired from Toronto on Wednesday, has been unavailable because of visa issues.
Howard was scratched from Friday night's game at Minnesota with a sore right shoulder and returned to Los Angeles to receive platelet-rich plasma treatments. It's the same injury that kept him out of three games in January.
"It is his call, totally. He's the only one who feels the pain, and he can play when he feels like he can play," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit different than a normal injury. It's something that's going to be there. He has to go through what he can tolerate and what he can't."
The Lakers play at Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
"As soon as the pain goes away he'll play," D'Antoni said. "Hopefully that's next game, but there's no guarantees."
Howard is averaging 16.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, but his level of intimidation in the paint has not been the same. The Lakers will need a second-half push this season just to make the playoffs.
Howard was with the team Sunday but says he wants to make sure this injury doesn't become a recurring problem.
"I don't want to have this happen every week or two, to where I'm fine, and then I take a hard hit and re-aggravate it," he said.
D'Antoni was asked if he's concerned about Howard being hurt when he brings the ball up to make a move to the basket and a defender hits down on him.
"He has to learn to get the ball under his chin and not take it down. He has a habit of taking it down. That's when they're loading up on him, and they don't care about him shooting foul shots, so they just unload on him, and that's a problem," D'Antoni said. "Hopefully he can get that out of his game and not bring it down as much."
Howard says he doesn't even want to think about the possibility of surgery, but it's not clear how much less painful the injury will become, even over time.
"From what I've heard, he's going to always have to deal with it, because it's not going to go away," D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit of a tear. It won't go away. If it gets totally bad, then you have to do something, but the way it is right now, you just have to deal with it."