New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - For the first time in two months, the Houston Rockets will have Dwight Howard in the lineup when the Western Conference contenders visit the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night.

Rockets head coach Kevin McHale confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Howard, sidelined since Jan. 23 by a swollen right knee, will start the game but will be placed on a minutes restriction.

Howard has sat out Houston's past 26 games due to his troublesome knee, which required a bone marrow aspirate injection in early February. The All-Star center also missed more than three weeks with soreness in the same knee before returning in mid-December.

The Rockets, who trail Memphis by just 2 1/2 games for first place in the Southwest Division, have still fared well without Howard. The team has gone 25-13 in the 38 games he's missed and 22-10 with the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the lineup.

Howard has averaged 16.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in the 32 games he's played this season.