Kobe Bryant (L) and Dwight Howard (R) were both present at Lakers practice on Thursday. Bryant returned to Lakers practice on Thursday after recovering from flu-like symptoms a couple days earlier.
After a tough loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the Lakers had Wednesday off. On Thursday, the purple and gold took to the practice floor in El Segundo, and this team was significantly more upbeat than Tuesday night.
First of all, Kobe Bryant practiced, meaning he had all but recovered from his flu-like symptoms. Also, Bryant debuted his new basketball shoes, and teammates were apparently whispering shoe sizes after seeing the new Kobe 8’s in action.
Steve Blake, who has been out with an abdominal strain, also did some shooting drills and was positive about his road to recovery.
After missing 20 foul shots in the three-point loss to the Pacers, free throws were a topic of discussion on Thursday. Dwight Howard may have said it best: "Can’t worry about it. Practice on daily a basis and have confidence to step up there and make them."
After practice, Pau Gasol opened up to the media about his slow adjustment to Mike D’Antoni’s offense.
"I’ll try to get into the paint as much as I can, but also remind myself that (I need to) keep the floor spaced," Gasol said. "I’m trying to figure it out."
Gasol expressed some frustration about not getting into the post last week, but D’Antoni seems optimistic about the Spaniard.
Prior to Tuesday’s loss, D’Antoni discussed Gasol’s role with the team.
"When Dwight goes out, [Gasol]’s a great center. You cannot find a center for 14 minutes like he can do it," D’Antoni said. "He is a big part of what we’re going to do."
When D’Antoni was pressed on Gasol not being a three-point shooter, the coach quickly responded, "He can shoot threes. He’ll shoot threes."
Gasol did attempt a three pointer against Indiana. He didn’t look comfortable, and the shot wasn’t close. With Howard not going anywhere, Gasol expects to be practicing and shooting plenty more threes this season, considering D’Antoni’s statement.
Last year, Gasol was 7-27 from behind the arc. This season, he’s 2-7. He’s a career 23.5 percent shooter from distance and a career 51.9 percent shooter from the field. This season, he’s shooting a career-worst 42.3 percent from the field. Starting 1-6 against Indiana and finishing 2-9 certainly weren't signs Gasol was breaking out of his slump.