Thoughts on the slump: Practice report and video

For those concerned the Lakers are mired in a four-game skid as the result of complacent indifference, fear not. There were no signs of panic at Thursday's practice, but the "serious" was thick enough to cut with a knife. For example, Phil Jackson is often a loquacious sort during media meet n' greets, with responses running the verbal gamut from detailed to introspective to smart aleck. Sometimes in the course of one answer.

This afternoon, however, was a different story. After a workout running nearly an hour beyond the approximated time estimated before reporters were allowed inside the gym, Jackson largely was in "just the facts, ma'am" mode for the scribes and camera men. Information was provided in clipped fashion and he actually ended the session as a reporter was in mid-question.

What struck me as most interesting was Jackson's obvious concern for Pau Gasol's strained left hamstring, which was listed as "day-to-day." When I asked if he might consider playing Derrick Caracter on a more regular basis, even as a precautionary measure to prevent further aggravation, Jackson took the sentiment one step further. He didn't rule out Pau possibly missing Friday's game against the Kings to allow five full days of rest before the Wizards arrive in town on Tuesday:

"(We) might have to start (Caracter) and play him the whole game. That's always an option where something may happen with that."

On a related note, I warned you, Phil.

For his part, Gasol maintained a hopeful stance of playing against Sacto, if for no other reason than manning up. "We're short-handed already, so I try to be out there as much as I can and do as much as I can without, obviously, wanting anything extremely bad to happen that will put you out," explained El Spaniard. "But you got to toughen it up right now, suck it up and hopefully get a couple guys back soon."

More importantly, Gasol labeled this hamstring ailment "not comparable" to last season's lingering injury. The pain involved is much less severe, but nonetheless a "warning" minded by the three-time All-Star. Fingers crossed, it'll emerge little more than a reality check scare.

Lamar Odom shared his coach's mood of solemn calm, even maintaining positive perspective about the slump. In Odom's mind, there's value in being the equivalent of a supermodel taking a hard look at herself in the mirror before the makeup, lighting and photoshop come into play: We're still talking about a very attractive lady, but the "flaws" definitely become more noticeable.

"Us taking our bumps and cruises is probably good for your team, so we can focus on some things. Especially our defense. Re-tune and refine. Get back on the winning side of things... We probably weren't doing the little things that we need to do as a group.

"It happens. At the end of the day, it's something we can fix."

Odom also offered a take on the defensive issues currently suffered:

"We're playing these teams and they're all comfortable. As far as whether they're getting layups or going to the free throw line. Everybody's kind of joining in on the fun. In the NBA, you can't have seven guys comfortable. Eight guys looking for their shots. You'll lose. You gotta take things away from these teams. Make them work. Just keep playing our game."