Your Lakers medical update
Monday's practice centered mostly around learning injury statuses for various players, a task that later received a surprise goosing with news that Luke Walton is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks with a pinched nerve in his back. A very unwelcome whammy, as the injury bug continues to make its presence felt in L.A. On the plus side, the other principles are somewhere between "not gonna miss any time" and "fingers crossed, PT may be nigh."The former description was for Kobe Bryant, who looked considerably more comfortable at the tail end of today's scrimmage than during Sunday's fall against Houston (which featured a 5-20 clip from the field). Turns out, my eyes weren't deceiving me. A full participant in practice, 24 responded well to the treatment on his strained right groin, which was cranked up after last night's loss. "I went at it a little more aggressively," explained Kobe. "(The pain) went away, but I just pulled it again, so I had do jump on it."
Taking the groin by the horns in 'round the clock fashion led to a "long night," but the results will hopefully speak for themselves, even if occasionally voiced through gritted teeth. "It's still there," said Kobe of his discomfort. "But I can play through it." Bryant was asked if a increasingly heavy workload for Gary Vitti (Kobe, Pau, Andrew Bynum's elbow, now Walton) was a source of frustration, especially this early in the season. Just comes with the territory, according to the thirteen year vet.
"That's part of the season. Everybody has bangs and bruises. You just gotta treat 'em and get your ass back out there."
Presumably after the dirt gets rubbed in, of course.
Pressed further about the "mood" at practice (nothing out of the ordinary), Bryant was told of doom and gloom settling over Los Angeles due to a weekend where a USC loss gets sandwiched by identical results from the Lakers. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me," said Kobe while shaking his head. No, Mamba. It's true. A playful grin slowly formed over Kobe's face. "Let 'em suffer, man."
Of course, Kobe soon learned how losses hurt when the shoe's on the other foot. Reminded his beloved Eagles also came up short, Kobe suddenly found the whole discussion less amusing. "Oh, you're just an ass," he told the writer as he abruptly wrapped the Q & A.
Note: Before this report gets twisted and blown out of proportion, Kobe WAS NOT actually angry upon getting razzed about Philly. He "stormed off" purely for comedic effect. If the rumor mill goes into overdrive regarding a hot-headed Bryant tearing into a hapless scribe, don't blame me. My journalism remains responsible.
(For his part, when asked about the most disappointing part of the Houston loss, Phil Jackson cited a fourth quarter sequence where three offensive rebounds were surrendered, the second and third to the shrimpy Kyle Lowry, who drew a foul on Andrew Bynum while putting back the latter board and earning the "and one" trip. "That kind of was emblematic. They wanted the ball more.")
As for Pau Gasol, he took limited part in both half court and full court action this afternoon, the run actually increasing his confidence about a light at the end of his hamstrung tunnel. "It felt pretty good," said Gasol of his troublesome hamstring. "I was happily pleased with everything that we did today I think the hamstring responded, so now we have to see how it feels tomorrow. How it digests the work we put the work that we put in today."
Unfortunately, Pau's taken a recent drive on "Taking Part In Practice" Road before, only to get caught in a metaphorical speed trap that is a setback. What makes him confident that a repeat letdown isn't waiting in the wings? "I've learned to see how it feels, " explained Gasol. "The hamstring, this injury, how it develops and the time of injury, and the symptoms. So this time, it felt different. It felt better. Less discomfort. I feel pretty confident that tomorrow will be another good day."
A "good day," as in "feel no side effects/suit up tomorrow against the Pistons/die hard Laker fan Ice Cube is stoked enough to record a remix?" Well, not quite. Gasol will definitely be in street clothes come Tuesday, but considered a debut 48 hours later against the Bulls "possible." Optimistic, to be sure, but that guarded nature remained intact, along with a plan to exercise a couple days' worth of test runs. "I didn't get this far to take another (step backward), because I was trying to do too much too quick," insisted Pau. He'll see how the hammy feels tomorrow, with the goal to practice "fully" on Wednesday. Fingers crossed, Hump Day isn't chock full of curve balls, but rather the final step in a return anxiously awaited and definitely needed.
Oh, and speaking of a debut hopefully on the horizon, Pau also quickly reminded us that his CSI: Miami episode aired Tuesday night. Remember how I floated a theory about using his injury to build buzz for the appearance, and that it would look awfully suspicious if he just happened to emerge healthy right after the Nielsens were in? I'm just saying...