The Lakers? Not so much.
Thus, the majority of today's media Q & A revolved around various players' ailments, plus their potential availability for tomorrow's game against Houston and the ones closely following. As noted earlier today, Lamar Odom missed practice in favor of a doctor's appointment due to a gastro-intestinal issue, although outward concerns about missed action were minimal. As for Pau Gasol, his hamstring is officially "strained" (mildly to moderately so) and his status for "tomorrow" and "beyond" respectively "doubtful" and "day-to-day." Neither was on hand this afternoon for comment.
Two injured Lakers, however, provided the media some face time. Ron Artest was a full practice participant and felt good enough afterward to play a round robin scoring game of sorts with Shannon Brown, DJ Mbenga, and Adam Morrison. Artest would love to suit up tomorrow, but will leave the final call to the medical and coaching staffs (and in particular, Phil Jackson). Another evaluation will take place after tomorrow's shoot-around before any definitive call is made. It's pretty evident Artest takes his condition plenty seriously. Despite itching desperately for some hardwood run, asked when he'd return if it were he given the choice, Ron Ron sounded like the ideal patient. "Whenever they tell me. It was too dangerous for me to rush back, so whenever they tell me."
More from Artest, who upped his concussion I.Q. by researching Pacers guard T.J. Ford (who I personally only recalled dealing with a spinal injury, not a concussion, so you learn something new every day). Artest says he's not experiencing dizziness these days, so that's a plus. It also means he theoretically watched last night's blowout of Dallas with a clear head, so I found particularly interesting his candid response when I asked why the Lakers were so dominant against the Mavs than during the previous couple of weeks.
- "They played every possessions. We had it so easy this year, with a lot of blowouts, we forgot that we had to play hard sometimes. We were still in first place, you know? They played every possession last night. That was the difference."
Luke Walton hopes Thursday will see him cleared for full practices after a back injury that's shelved him since mid-November. Like Ron Ron, he's erred on the side of caution over risking setbacks. When he hurt his back during preseason, he was given a similar six week diagnosis, but returned way ahead of schedule after feeling momentarily good. As a result, here we are now.
I love Kobe's answer when asked if tomorrow's potentially shorthanded state might prompt him to be more offensively minded. "More than I've been already," asked the NBA's current scoring leader with a laugh.