New PodKast: Winning, Kobe's knee, Pau's All-Star credentials

Ear candy! Get your fresh ear candy! Here is the latest batch, all scrumdilicious and waiting for consumption. Among the talking points:

-We recorded before Friday's victory over the Hornets, which extended the Lakers' winning streak to three. Is this even more proof that a team once appearing quite vulnerable has turned the proverbial corner?

Honestly, that's probably too bold a statement, considering the small sample size and relative lack of competition, but there are definitely positive signs to build on. Whether you're citing Ron Artest's increased comfort, Andrew Bynum's increased explosiveness or simply the team's increased focus and purpose, the direction is certainly promising.

- Peter Vecsey's article about Kobe Bryant's decreasing knee cartilage and practice participation had the NBA world in a tizzy yesterday, so we naturally weighed in. As far as revelations go, that Kobe tends to observe elements of practice more than not doesn't qualify. This fact has been reported by the local media, if not necessarily hammered home on a daily basis. Bryant recently opting to lace 'em up in El Segundo can motivate teammates and improve on-court chemistry, but we don't expect this to become a regular occurrence. It's simply not practical for Kobe.

As for Kobe's statement his knee is essentially "bone on bone," it's new information in that the guard has never been so specific with details. (If anything, he typically won't talk about the knee, period.) And no question, "bone on bone" sounds ominous and chilling. But when you ponder the situation logically, between all the years under Kobe's belt and the multiple procedures on that knee, it's actually more or less expected. Dude's knee has been through the wringer.

Bryant insisted all is well after the Hornets win ("Do I look worried?"), and for the time being, I'm also calm. But the comments do provide legitimate reason to wonder about Kobe's effectiveness over the next few seasons, not to mention respect for how hard Bryant works to stay on the court.

(If you're looking for more medical perspective on Kobe's situation, listen to Dr. Michael Kaplan's appearance on Friday's Mason and Ireland show.)

- Is Pau Gasol, currently third among forwards for All-Star voting, still worthy of a spot of in light of a fairly unimpressive December and January, scattered high points notwithstanding? Brian posed the question on the blog yesterday, and we debate the topic. For the time being, I wouldn't, unless he's serving as a center. But unless he finishes January strong, I've got him behind Lamar Odom, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin among forwards, and fellas like Luis Scola, Paul Millsap and a surging LaMarcus Aldridge are making strong cases to bump him.