We begin with the afternoon's most pressing news. Kobe Bryant -- whose practice consisted of icing and light shooting -- wasn't on hand to speak about his swollen knee and availability for tomorrow's game against the Trail Blazers. Phil Jackson, however, shared the gist of a conversation during last night's plane ride back from 'Sota, and his recap will likely please Laker fans:
"He's anticipating (playing)... We talked about it on the plane last night and he said, "I have every intention of playing. I just hope it progresses as well as it's going.'"
Of course, similar to when a politician lays out plans for his or her time in office, nothing said even remotely constitutes a promise. While expressing confidence, the final call remains a flexible, reversible matter of how Kobe feels Sunday. Still, it's a decided upgrade over Jackson's declaring the matter already closed and discussing Shannon Brown's role as a starter, so that's a plus. Should the Mamba hit the floor, PJ doesn't anticipate drastically limiting his minutes.
Aside from news of Kobe potentially taking the floor, the afternoon's biggest smile was provided by Ron Artest. Last night's postgame report included mention of Ron Ron diving into the scorer's table after a loose ball, a collision leaving KCAL-9 commentator Stu Lantz's suit covered in partner Joel Meyers' tea. Lantz joked several times during the broadcast about presenting the small forward with a cleaning bill, so I asked Ron if Lantz mentioned anything to him.
Ron wasn't aware of the announcer's drenched clothing but did note how there was more than one victim here.
"My shoes got tea on (them), too."
Point-counterpoint, Mr. Lantz.
During a postgame interview, Pau Gasol told John Ireland he'd prefer to play out the season's remaining three games, as opposed to shutting 'er down for the playoffs. Having said that, we're 79 games in the books and Gasol has played several consecutive years without a true offseason. Dude's not afraid to admit he's a little tuckered. When ESPNLA.com's own Dave McMenamin began a question by noting today's practice was pretty long on the heels of a back-to-back, a deadpan Gasol immediately interjected:
"No kidding... Did I say that out loud?"
Still, he understands the importance of the work being done, so no complaints.
More from Gasol on the Western Conference's brutal difficulty ("You're not going to be able to have an easy series in the first round, the second round...") and the continuity Brian recently laid to rest:
"Obviously, we would have liked to have had our pieces together more consistently, but it is what it is. Situations come up. Circumstances and injuries come up and you've got to be able to be recover, stay strong, stay together as unit. Play hard when the time comes and play together."