Notes From Practice, 3.28
After a day off Monday, it was back to work for the purple and gold down in El Segundo.
First, the good news for Lakers fans. Kobe underwent some physical therapy instead of practicing, but spoke to the media while standing appropriately vertical. No need for a cane, no wincing, none of the bent straw posture that I recognize from my own back issues.
"It's a little tight today, but it should be cleared up by tomorrow. It's just tight today. I just stayed on top of it," Bryant said. The back trouble was a new thing for Kobe (in his words, "unique") but he seemed unconcerned. "It'll go away." He's played through a lot worse, so I'd be pretty shocked if he wasn't on the floor Thursday against the Spurs.
As for the rest of the walking wounded, Kwame is apparently doing fine. Andrew Bynum said his right ankle was getting better, but he was clearly favoring the foot and Phil Jackson said there's still a little ways to go before he's healed up. Watching him walk, it doesn't look like Bynum will be ready for Thursday night. Smush Parker came off the floor without tape on the thumb he injured Sunday, which is a good sign. "It was taped earlier. I played with tape on, but I took it off. I don't need it," Parker said. "I'm a soldier."
As for his day off, Parker came in for a little treatment, then found himself with something totally out of the ordinary- spare time. "I (haven't) had a day off in Los Angeles in a long time. I was lost. I didn't know what to do. I was like, "I don't know what this feels like anymore," Parker said. "I just stayed home, watched a little TV, caught some shows that I didn't know came on at certain times of the day. That was pretty much it."
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Not surprisingly, the strong play of Kwame Brown was again the topic of conversation. Despite the change in his performance, Kobe says his attitude at practice hasn't changed. "He's the same today as he was in December. Pretty even keel," he said. "I just think he's done a good job working hard, and not letting any of the talk get to him. He just comes out here and works hard every day. He knows what we expect from him, and we've been happy and pleased with the way he's been playing this season. And now the way he's playing, he's been terrific for us."
Like many on this site have suggested, it's helpful that Kwame seems to be doing, rather than spinning the wheels trying to figure out what needs to be done, a change that Bryant believes isn't limited to Brown. "He's more comfortable in playing. He's not having to think and play at the same time. And that's for everybody. That's Lamar, that's Smush, that's everybody that's out there on the floor. Once you get comfortable in this offense then it becomes more of an instinctual type of offense, you start getting better at it."
Not surprisingly, Jackson echoed the positive sentiments regarding Kwame, and had an interesting spin on his development. "He hasn't had a lot of chances to play basketball in his life. He's been a pro and he's such a kid. A guy that's that size a lot of times doesn't get to have the chances to play ball with like quality players so that you can work on the game that you have to work to play at this level."
There's no question Kwame has played better at center than power forward. So what happens when to the rotation when Chris Mihm comes back? "We'll cross that when we get to it," Jackson said.