And on Saturday, the Lakers rested.
After Friday's high-energy Galen Center scrimmage, Mike Brown decided his guys needed a day spent largely recuperating. Even as someone admittedly big on practice followed by even more practice, there are limits, especially during this compressed training camp.
"I gotta be careful utilizing two-a-days, because they might learn a lot, but I also could end up breaking them down in a short amount of time," said Brown. "They're elite humans, but there is a point to where enough is enough and their bodies need rest."
Thus, they watched a lot of scrimmage video, followed by some light workouts by most players. Brown liked a lot of what he saw during the scrimmage, singling out the performances of Devin Ebanks and Matt Barnes, and the way big men ran the floor. However, being the serious stickler he is, predictably there were areas where he wasn't satisfied. During the film session, poor transition defense was singled out, and the coach sounded only moderately pleased with pick and roll coverage. Bad possessions were rewound a few times to illustrate fully where the problems lie. And for Sunday, Brown promised at least one transition D drill, and the usual meticulous pursuit of perfection.
Still, all things considered, he's actually happy with what he's seen after barely more than a week of training camp.
"For where we are now, after six, seven days, I feel pretty good about where we are, knowing that this thing is coming up relatively quick."
Brown also discussed Derek Fisher's conditioning, which is still a little behind the eight ball after month of endless hours in rooms negotiating with David Stern and Adam Silver. He's not terribly concerned about the veteran point guard, who's professionalism and history of impeccable fitness is all that's needed for the benefit of the doubt from his coach. For that matter, Brown's also not particularly concerned about Fisher's age or lack of speed, two elements fans typically complain about in regards to the longtime Laker.
"Defensively, I don't him to be up and pressuring the ball," insisted Brown. "Nobody can guard Tony Parker one on one. Nobody can guard Chris Paul one on one. And Deron Williams. And Derek Rose. The way I look at it, it's five guys guarding the basketball and everybody's on a string. If we have that understanding and everybody's able to do that, Fish will be fine. He's got one job when he's on the ball, just keep it out of the middle of the floor."
Kobe Bryant has only been working closely with Brown for a week, but it hasn't taken him long to recognize and appreciate the way his coach will sweat even the smallest things.
"He pays very close attention to the details," raved Kobe. "Very meticulous about the details. He doesn't let anything slide. In the middle of the scrimmage, he'll have a teaching moment and he'll stop everything. He'll break things down and teach the young guys what they're doing wrong, show us veterans what we're doing wring. He pays close attention to the details. I like that."
Oh, and by the way, despite being one of the league's most studied players, a future Hall of Famer 15 years into a career and equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, Kobe counts himself among those getting an education.
"I'm learning something new every day," noted Bryant. "I'm learning a new system. I'm learning how he likes us to play defense. Some of his principles are new to me. It's different than how I've been doing them for 15 years, which is exciting for me, because I get to learn a new way of doing things."
There's been a lot of concern about Pau Gasol's mental state as the regular season approaches and the possibility of getting traded still exists. El Spaniard isn't oblivious to the chatter, and it's not the easiest situation being asked each day how much longer he thinks he'll remain a Laker. But he remains committed to maintaining professionalism, and for what it's worth to Laker fans and his teammates, with each passing day he wakes up a Laker, the greater sense of normalcy and calm is felt.
"A little more than there has been, for sure," assured Gasol. "There's more stability. There's more normalcy. It allows me to be focused and have my mind on what I need my mind on to help the team and do my best."
And finally, as Dave McMenamin reports, the rumor mill continues to churn out Andrew Bynum's name, but he doesn't really care one way or the other. There are bigger things on his plate, like proving he can play an entire season without injury, regardless of what uniform he might wear.