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Category: Practice Notes

Lakers focus on Timberwolves, not four-game winning streak

Even though the Lakers have won four consecutive games, Coach Phil Jackson said after his team's shootaround Tuesday that it hasn't been discussed.

All his team his doing was looking forward to was playing the Minnesota Timberwolves later that night at the Target Center.

"We've got a good focus from the players about what we're doing," Jackson said.

Jackson admitted that his team appears more sharp since the All-Star break.

The Lakers had lost three consecutive games entering the break, this after winning the first four on a seven-game trip, including an impressive win in Boston.

But then came the embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and things didn't look so good.

"We had a road trip that was 14 days long and you get road-weary after a while, so it's good for guys to get home and get rested and re-access," Jackson said. "We had a chance to make it a spectacular road trip and made a mediocre one out of it."

-- Broderick Turner in Minneapolis

Andrew Bynum fine, Kobe Bryant subdued as Lakers prepare for the Thunder

Bynum_586

A day after playing in his first game after missing the last 13 regular-season games with a left Achilles' tendon strain, Lakers center Andrew Bynum said he felt fine coming off of practice Monday.

Bynum finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. It was the first game he had played since he was injured 30 days ago.

"My Achilles' feels fine," Bynum said. "Every now and then, on a couple of movements I feel something, but it's nothing too serious."

The Lakers have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant was subdued when he spoke with the media after practice Monday.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Bryant was the same way during practice.

"He was very subdued today when he was in the training room and in the video room," Jackson said. "I didn't get anything or initiate a conversation but once with him, and that was it."

Jackson said Bryant came in early and took some shots but didn't do much at practice on the court.

One bright spot in Game 1 was the defense Ron Artest played on Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant.

Artest held Durant to 24 points on seven-for-24 shooting.

"He [Durant] had some open looks, and Ron got some tough defensive challenges against him too," Jackson said.

-- Broderick Turner

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum goes to work in the post against Thunder center Nenad Krstic during Sunday's game. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lakers enter Portland with a losing streak they would like to end

Portland wants to go streaking.

And no, the Trail Blazers aren't planning on going through the Quad and into the gymnasium.

Lately, the word "streak" has apparently just been a media talking point and a pre-game note. It was mentioned with such frequency this week that it caused Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy to release his frustrations about reporters bringing up the team's nine-game losing streak against the Lakers.

That streak finally ended for the Clippers on Wednesday in their 102-91 victory over the Lakers, who now have their own streak to break.

That's the eight-game losing streak the Lakers have at the Rose Garden entering tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, a bad habit that formed since the Lakers last won in Portland on Feb. 23, 2005.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson jokingly cited Portland's dreary climate as the reason for the depressing results, but then he seriously credited the Trail Blazers' focus on forcing others beyond Kobe Bryant to score (not a bad strategy, especially considering Jackson's admission that Bryant aggravated an injury to his right index finger in Tuesday's win against Houston).

"It’s not the building," Bryant said. "It’s the team."

Jackson said he views the Lakers' 6-1 home record wedged between those road losses as diluting the substance of this eight-game losing streak. Nonetheless, the streak has prompted him to alter the team's travel arrangements and pre-game routines in Portland, but to no avail.

"Obviously not," Jackson said, laughing when asked if he thinks the approach worked.

Continue reading »

Kobe Bryant: M(ost) V(aluable) P(resident of the future)

Save physically and/or socially awkward science fiction types participating only because the gym teacher President Obama plays basketball in pants demands it, people do not generally wear pants to play basketball. Like a good Vegas stage show, some amount of leg is required. In fact, there's only one guy I can think of who has in recent memory taken his short pants all the way to the floor during a run on the hardwood: President Barack Obama (right).

Until today, that is.

Yes, no less than Kobe Bryant spent Tuesday's practice in a pair of gleaming white sweat pants. Last week(ish), I posted information about the delay in consummating a contract extension for LA's favorite superstar. It referred to things like "salary caps" and "collective bargaining agreements." Based on Tuesday's events, though, one can't overlook the notion that Kobe simply may want to be tied down too long after his 35th birthday, when he will be Constitutionally eligible for our nation's highest office. Now, the responsible thing would be to point out that Kobe has never served in public office, never expressed any real desire to do so, and has many good years left on the basketball court. That's not the direction I'm going to go. Instead, I'll put it this way: All available evidence suggests Kobe Bryant has every intention of being President of the United States, and soon.

Moving on...

Kobe didn't do much to build his voter base in today's firsts vs. seconds scrimmage. He hit what proved to be the game winner (Adam Morrison had a chance to steal back the victory with a buzzer beating three, but apparently hasn't mastered this...) in a big comeback victory for the starters, and didn't miss the chance to talk a little trash when it was done, either. Both on the court, and to the media (see below).

He did note how hard the reserves force the starters to play on a daily basis, and how that contributes to the quality of the team generally. I mostly saw that as a transparent vote grab, an attempt to pander to guys Kobe hopes will eventually comprise his base. Guys not only who will vote for him, but also pass out a few fliers or work a phone bank. It could just be me, though, since I've already grown weary with the politicization of Lakers practice.

More news/video below...

Continue reading »

Monday practice videos: Get 'em while they're embedded!!!

No real "theme" emerged during today's practice. Which makes sense, as there isn't really much worth a hardcore examination. The Lakers are fresh off back-to-back blow out W's. Pau Gasol is looking very good upon his return from injury. Kobe Bryant is making the kind of shots that typically don't stroke cord without CGI assistance.  It is, as the kids often say, "all good" these days.

But that won't stop me from presenting some talkies from the afternoon's session in El Segundo. Why? Because we care over at Lakers Blog. And you people would hunt us down if we didn't provide the scoop. So there's that, too.

After last night's win over OKC and point guard Russell Westbrook getting held to 2-8 shooting, Scotty Brooks lavished some serious praise on Derek Fisher:

"Derek Fisher never gets enough credit. The guy is a star. He battles and competes. I admire his play every year since he's been in this league. If you want your son to be a point guard, they should look at his tape and be committed to what he does. He plays for the team, and that's what you expect from a point guard at that level. He's an amazing player."

To say the least, flattering words, reflective of a dude who's made a difference as a grinder, not a stat machine. As Fish later noted, the way he plays as a pro is the way he's played his entire life.

Continue reading »

Friday practice notes: Pau, PJ, and Bynum

(Self Promotional Notes: Don't forget to download this week's 710 ESPN.com Lakers PodKast, and to follow us on the Twitter at latimesKbros. Finally, AK and I are the, ahem, "personalities" representing 710 ESPN at this poker tourney at Hollywood Park Casino. Apparently, there's a bounty on our heads. Not for capturing us Boba Fett style for delivery to Jabba the Hutt, but rather knocking us out of the event. Come down/up/over and play if you can. That is all... for now. Moving on...)

Sorry for what will be a brief report from Friday afternoon's practice in El Segundo, but it's nearly Mom K's birthday, and that gift won't buy itself. I need to do a little shopping this afternoon. But I digress... There are two bits of genuine news to report. First, Andrew Bynum didn't practice, but instead received treatment on the ankle he turned in Thursday's win over Chicago. It included lasers, and while they were mounted on the heads of neither sharks nor sea bass, they ought to help reduce swelling in the area. He expects to play Sunday against Oklahoma City.

Pau Gasol, who made his season debut last night, did practice, working through the natural soreness that comes with the first game after a long layoff. He was quick to note, as you'll see in the videos below, that none of said aches were located in the bum right hamstring that kept him out of the season's first 11 games. 

Click below for today's moving pictures...

Continue reading »

Andrew Bynum Ankle Update

Or A.B.A.U., for the acronymically* inclined...

No surprise, after turning his right ankle in the third quarter of Thursday's 108-93 win over the Bulls, Andrew Bynum didn't practice Friday afternoon in El Segundo, instead receiving treatment ranging from medicine to ice to something he called a "laser level," which I always thought was used to hang picture frames properly. (Note: If my Google skills are worth their salt, I'm pretty sure he meant a low-level laser, which is used to help reduce swelling.)

"It was sorer than last night, he said. "I left last (the arena) last night without doing (any heavy treatment) because I was, you know, trying to walk it off, but it stiffened up this morning." Still, just as he did Thursday, Bynum said he doesn't expect to miss any games. "The ankle is alright. It's not too serious. I should be back by Sunday,"

Generally speaking, the best way to judge the severity of a Bynum injury is to measure the reactions of those around him, since Drew is notoriously bad at self-diagnosis. In that regard, nobody seemed too concerned. More to come from Friday's run.

BK

*new word

Pau Gasol declares Phil Jackson no thespian himself

Turnabout being the essence of fair play, of course.

Tuesday,
 I asked a sincerely innocuous question regarding Pau Gasol being potentially "gun shy" about risking re-injury to his troublesome hamstring with a return to the court. Phil Jackson, rarely reluctant to tweak a player, asked if I meant that Gasol was a "hypochondriac" and a "baby."  Taking it up a notch, he proceeded to tweak his All-Star forward's performance on CSI: Miami.  After kidding that Gasol actually injured himself in a scene where he pulled an accident victim from of a burning car and expressing disbelief that people even watch this show in the first place, his advice given to Pau was shared:

"I told him to keep his night job."

Naturally, El Spaniard was informed of el smack during Wednesday's practice. He took it all in stride, focusing on the good feedback he received from "most of the population" and the enjoyment gained from the experience. "If Phil doesn't like it, it's all good," shrugged Gasol.  Another writer mentioned that Phil's not really one to talk, since his most recent gig in front of the camera involved no talking whatsoever. That's when Pau offered a jab of his own --"well, his acting wasn't too good, either"-- followed by an impression of his coach's handiwork.

Not bad.

Not bad at all.

And as Pau noted, "He got paid, for sure."

AK

All Gasol, Gasol the time

Came up with that headline all by myself.  No assistance whatsoever. That's why I get the big bucks as a professional writer, and you people wait with bated breath to see what masterpiece I craft next. Or you drop by purely because I happen to have access to the Lakers, you don't and it's worth tolerating my ham-fisted hackdom to get a little inside dirt. But it's definitely one or the other.

As the title implies, the top topic this afternoon in El Segundo was in fact Pau Gasol, who's been increasingly optimistic over the last few days that tomorrow against the Bulls could mark his seasonal debut. Well, the SS Good Vibes hasn't sprung a leak or crashed into an iceberg yet. Pau participated fully in practice, felt great, and remains hopeful that his tentative plans won't go interrupted.

Mind you, this isn't a promise, and Pau wouldn't even touch anything in the neighborhood of confirmation, fearing a jinx.  He did, however, promise that should he suit up, wind will be sucked, reminding us a few times that his conditioning isn't up to snuff. When asked if "okay" could be a fair adjective to describe his "game shape" status, Gasol labeled that description "generous."

Continue reading »

Pau Gasol: Everything you always wanted to know about hamstrings*... *But were afraid to ask

It was Wednesday's big news from El Segundo, more so than the presence on the practice court of Matt Lauer. No disrespect intended, but the big Spaniard's balky right hammy it a lot higher on the pecking order for Lakers fans than anything coming up on the Today Show.

First, the video:

So there you have it- Pau Gasol, rocking the elliptical machine when the media was let in- will be on the treadmill Thursday, and if he recovers well, Friday. From there, it's a question of getting back on the practice court, playing at full speed and recovering well. For multiple practices, I would think. Looking at the schedule, that takes him into next week at the earliest.

After the big, TV camera-laden throng dispersed, Gasol answered a few questions for us print/web types, addressing first the comment from the video that he had "skipped a few steps" in the initial stages of his rehab. The full transcript is below. 

Continue reading »
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