Following an ugly win over the worst team in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers practiced at their El Segundo facility on Wednesday. The Lakers have only one game before the All-Star break, but their opponents, the Los Angeles Clippers, provide plenty of motivation.
With regards to injuries, Earl Clark, who is suffering from a sore right foot, practiced and said he felt some pain. However, Clark was clear that he would not miss any time due to the ailment.
With regards to Thursday’s "Battle for Los Angeles," the Lakers and Clippers both returned home following an extended road trip. The Lakers’ 4-3 road record narrowly trumped the Clippers’ 4-4 mark during the Grammy Awards' takeover of Los Angeles.
However, the Clippers got Chris Paul back from injury, and they rattled off two impressive blowout victories in New York and in Philadelphia to cap off the trip. The Clippers also play at home on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, so the Lakers will catch their city rivals on the second night of a back-to-back.
With the All-Star break looming, both teams will likely have difficulty focusing for the duration of the game.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard leave for Houston after the game to take part in the All-Star Game weekend festivities. Both Lakers’ superstars are starters for the Western Conference. The Clippers also supply two starters for the Western Conference, as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were both voted in by the fans.
"It’s pretty crazy," Bryant responded when asked about Los Angeles providing four All-Stars to the Sunday exhibition game. "It’s gotta be exciting for LA to have that kind of talent."
Bryant’s effort and production have been deserving of a trip to Houston, but the Lakers’ shooting guard has been in a bit of a slump as of late. Bryant was 1-8 against the Suns on Tuesday, but his recent shooting struggles are magnified from behind the arc.
After shooting 0-4 against Phoenix, he is now one for his last 30 from three-point land.
"I’m not in a slump," Bryant said at Wednesday’s practice. "I just haven’t shot it."
That’s not entirely true.
Bryant has averaged 2.55 three-point shots per game over the last nine games. Also, he’s taken more than one shot from distance in seven of the last nine games. Kobe may not be shooting as much, but he is missing far more often.