Lakers on a pretty even keel after Monday's practice
Sharing a few laughs, Andrew Bynum joked with Lamar Odom that it was Odom's fault the two collided knees during Sunday's game against the Denver Nuggets. The crash prompted Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to keep Bynum out of the final seven minutes of the Lakers' 95-90 loss Sunday to the Nuggets.
"I'm all right," said Bynum of his right knee, which kept him limited in Monday's practice. "I'm good. Just preventative. It's crazy. I had the brace on. That's what saved it."
Lakers forward Pau Gasol kept a pretty optimistic outlook about his upcoming MRI scheduled for Monday afternoon on his left knee, laughing with reporters about whether it's difficult to undergo the test given his 7-foot frame, how he's more knowledgeable than others about the results because of his strong medical history and how it will likely end in time to catch the NCAA men's basketball title game between Connecticut and Butler.
"I believe positive thinking helps your body," said Gasol, who described his left knee as "sore" and Nene's hard foul with 9:17 left in the third quarter as a "scary moment." "It helps to think that way."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joked about his recent Western Conference player of the week award, saying that he was only given a piece of paper for the honor.
Clearly, the Lakers aren't fretting much about their loss to Denver, especially considering their 17-2 mark since the All-Star break.
"You don't get too high or too low," Bryant said. You don't listen to the praises or the criticisms. You go out there and do your job the best way you can. When the game is over, you forget about it and move on to the next one."
There's plenty of signs the Lakers have already done that. It's customary for Coach Jackson to review film after losses, but he opted not to do that, figuring it was no use repeating a performance he mostly blamed on a loss of energy from the Lakers' emotional double-digit victory last week against Dallas and their come-from-behind win over Utah.
"It's not unusual something like that would happen," Jackson said he told his team, which shot 42% and committed 20 turnovers against the Nuggets.
Instead, the Lakers' practice mostly centered on staying healthy, with Jackson saying Bynum had "limited participation" and Gasol limiting himself to weight lifting and treatment. And again, the Lakers aren't too worried.
But, sure, there are things the team wants to correct. Odom lamented the bench's inconsistent effort in winning quarters and blowing a seven-point lead at half-time against Denver. Bryant stressed the Lakers' need to decrease the 20 turnovers they committed against the Nuggets and to return to the nine turnovers they averaged in the 17-1 start after the All-Star break. And of course the Lakers want Bynum and Gasol to remain healthy.
But the Lakers' frequent laughing and smiles during practice suggested concerns about being 2 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the top spot in the West or any injury updates aren't going to consume them.
"We're not worried about the No. 1 seed because then we have to worry about San Antonio losing," Odom said. "We have to worry about getting healthy and to keep our momentum going into the playoffs."
-- Mark Medina
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