An hour or so before the start of Thursday night's game against Maine, Mad Ants guard Ron Howard was on the floor, shooting baskets. And he was making most of them.
The 6-foot-5 veteran has been out for nearly a month with a thumb injury to his right hand, and is expected to return Thursday when the Ants try to break a two-game losing streak against the Red Claws.
Howard not only averages 19.8 games, but provides something the team desperately needs, which is another voice besides Darnell Lazare.
As bad as it has been lately - and it has been bad, with the team losing four of their last five - are only four games away from the eighth and final playoff berth for the D-League finals. With a 10-18 record, they are chasing a pair of .500 teams in Dakota and Tulsa.