The Los Angeles Lakers host the Detroit Pistons on Sunday evening at Staples Center. The Lakers need a win in a bad way after losing four of the last five games. LA is 3-3 at home. That needs to improve if the Lakers want to get this season back on track and have a shot at the playoffs.
On Saturday, Kobe Bryant took part in practice for the first time since suffering a ruptured Achilles seven month earlier. Bryant’s appearance was a welcomed boost for a team that was consistently hustling, playing hard, but falling short. However, Bryant practicing does not necessarily mean he will be donning a game jersey anytime soon.
“I’d be surprised if he played tonight,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni joked at Sunday’s morning shootaround. “We’re a little bit premature.”
“That’s the first step and there’s a lot of steps to be taken, so we need to be cautious,” D’Antoni said about Bryant's return to practice. “I think it surprised most people, but that pace was pretty good.”
Apparently, Bryant was cutting, driving, and moving with such ease that he lifted spirits on the court and on the sidelines. However, Bryant still does not have a timeline. Every session will be reassessed based on how his body reacts.
At Sunday's shootaround, the focus was on Bryant, but Steve Nash also dribbled and took shots. Nash has been working on his own since the Lakers announced the 39-year-old Canadian would be out for a minimum of two weeks. However, Nash has been visible and active at nearly every practice since the announcement was made. There is no quit in the aging point guard.
“Oh yea, we play Detroit tonight, and we’re ready,” D’Antoni reminded reporters on Sunday morning.
With all the Bryant hoopla, it is easy to forget that the Lakers are mid-season and need to start winning games for the Black Mamba’s return to actually mean anything this season.
The Lakers and Pistons tip off at 6:30 pm PST at Staples Center.