Lakers take advantage of time before West Finals matchup with Phoenix
Even if Lakers fans are wondering when the heck the Western Conference finals between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns will ever get going, the Lakers don't feel the same way. It isn't that they're not looking forward to the series. It's just that this weeklong stretch between the West semifinals and finals affords the Lakers much-needed rest, a welcome development for a team whose assorted injuries have affected it all season.
For example, guard Kobe Bryant and center Andrew Bynum sat out of Friday's practice to rest right knee injuries, something Coach Phil Jackson said complicates their preparation, particularly on defensive rotations. But Jackson didn't appear concerned and said he plans for Bryant and Bynum to partake in shooting drills at Saturday's practice, although they likely wouldn't participate in a full practice.
With three days still to go before Game 1 Monday, forward Pau Gasol was able to phase back into the practice lineup after missing part of Wednesday's practice because of sinusitis. Gasol said he still hasn't fully overcome his illness but expects feel better as game time approaches.
"It helped overall," Gasol said of the time off. "Now we have three days to focus and prepare ourselves for Phoenix."
Those three days will also prove valuable to reserve guard Sasha Vujacic, who says he's ready to play against Phoenix after missing the first two rounds of the playoffs because of a severely sprained left ankle.
"I'll be active and ready to go," Vujacic said. "This is my fourth practice or so. I'm really excited. I can't wait."
Yet, Jackson said Vujacic's playing time will hinge on how much his health improves before the series starts.
"I basically told him there's an opportunity for him to play in this series if he gets himself back and healthy and he's got two or three days left." Jackson said. "He's got an idea of what this series is like and how he's got to play."
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