The Lakers are two days into their four day break from game action and the major story of the off period is injuries. Jordan Farmar is set to miss a month due to a torn hamstring. Meanwhile Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol are both nursing sprained ankles, though will play through the pain. Those three represent a major chunk of the Lakers’ production and having them out or at less than their most effective selves will hurt the team’s chances on any given night, irrespective of opponent.
On a somewhat brighter note, both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant practiced on Tuesday, though with different results in their respective returns. Kobe Bryant, by all accounts looked like Kobe. Mike D’Antoni said he “looked good” while Pau said Kobe was sharp and guessed that #24 had been doing a lot of work on his own to try and get back to game form. There were even reports of a steal and dunk in the scrimmage portion of the workout where Kobe raced up coourt and threw down a left hander.
Nash, on the other hand, was not up to the same standard as his backcourt partner. The Canadian was only a partial participant in the practice session and didn’t really scrimmage — at least not at the same level as Kobe. After the workout Nash didn’t entirely rule out playing on Friday, but did call it unlikely. Kobe, didn’t speak to the press about his status, but the hope remains he could make his debut against the Kings in three days.
Mike D’Antoni called Kobe’s return to practice today a “big step forward”. Dave McMenamin has the story.
McMenamin also writes that with Kobe and Nash getting closer and the Lakers sitting with an even 9-9 record, the Lakers get to restart their season with reinforcements on the way.
Speaking of Kobe getting closer, Kevin Ding discusses the superstar guard’s unending drive to evolve and, thus, improve.
On the flip-side, Ding also wrote on Pau Gasol’s twisted path from championship big man to a player who likely doesn’t have a future in Los Angeles.
Jordan Farmar may be out for a while, but remains optimistic about his recovery.
For Steve Nash, it’s a bit more complicated, as Eric Pincus reports. While he was encouraged by his return to practice, anytime you hear a player say he can’t have an urgency while adding “”If I race to come back … and it’s not quite right, I could be out forever or for months”, it’s not such a good thing.
Getting back to Kobe, this is a couple of weeks old, but one hoops fan (and not necessarily a Kobe one) writes how not having Kobe around made him realize how much he took him for granted.
Where the Lakers’ mixture of players hurting and healing leaves the rest of the team is pretty much the same place that fans are — guessing.
The Lakers have overachieved to this point, but have done so mostly on the strength of different performers raising their games from night to night. An Xavier Henry career high is followed by one from Wes Johnson. Jodie Meeks is hot one night and Steve Blake the next. Hill, Farmar, Gasol, or Nick Young bring their ‘A’ game and suddenly the Lakers are a .500 team looking to make some noise. But as the injuries pile up, one has to wonder how much more stepping up guys can do.
Getting a guy back who is used to putting his mates on his shoulders would certainly help, or at least that is the hope…