Lakers Practice Round Up: Tuesday
With a flurry of Lakers information coming out of Tuesday's practice, we put together a round up to make sure you were up to date:
Bryant (foot) Likely Out Wednesday
Kobe Bryant, who was kicked in the right foot in the third quarter of Sunday's preseason loss, missed practice for the second straight day and will "probably not" play in Wednesday's game at the Clippers.
Bryant called the foot "painful," and was unsure about when he'd resume activity on the court. He also said the foot is "all right," and responded as such when asked if he thought it was a setback for the team.
"Not really," he replied. "It’s probably pretty good that it happened. It slowed me down a bit. I’ve been going full bore pretty much every day."
His coach is trying to look towards the positive.
"It's going to be great in that other guys will get a chance to step up and produce," said Mike Brown. That said, Brown acknowledged that it's always a bit of a setback to team functionality to have guys out injured, as it was with Howard out of the first five games.
Just voted the NBA's toughest player by the league's GM's in an NBA.com poll, Bryant is of course known to play through nearly everything. We'll see how he feels in the coming days, but he's officially listed as "day to day."
L.A. plays on Thursday night in San Diego as well, in advance of Tuesday night's regular season opener against Dallas. Expect Jodie Meeks to start in Bryant's place on Wednesday.
After shining in his first action of the preseason against Sacramento on Saturday, Dwight Howard practiced fully on Monday and played in non-contact drills on Tuesday.
Howard was kept out of the scrimmage to close Tuesday's session as a precaution, but has held up well after 33 minutes, 19 points, 12 boards and four blocks against the Kings.
The 3-time Defensive Player of the Year will not likely play in both preseason games in Wednesday/Thursday back-to-back, but has had no set backs in his recovery process from back surgery last April. He is certainly on track to start the season opener against Dallas. We're more likely to see Howard play on Thursday than on Wednesday.
Hill Set to Return, Aid Lakers Bench
While L.A. will likely be without one big man in Howard on Wednesday, they're poised to get another back. Jordan Hill went through his fourth straight full practice after being held out for a number of days with a herniated disc, and is expected to play against the Clippers.
"There's a good chance (Hill) will play," said Brown. "He's participated in two straight contact practices."
Hill adds a different element to the Lakers bench with his athleticism and activity in the paint, providing some board and defensive relief to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Antawn Jamison can also play the four, though in more of a stretch role, but Hill's return will move Jamison primarily to the wing. Devin Ebanks hopes to earn some time at the three as well, with Meeks emerging as the backup shooting guard.
Mike Brown said he's unsure whether Steve Blake or Chris Duhon will get the bulk of the backup point guard minutes, though Blake's experience with teammates like Bryant, Gasol and Metta World Peace could give him the edge.
The second unit has struggled in the first six preseason games, but that shouldn't be a surprise. The combination of new players and injuries have forced the rotations out of whack. The return of Howard and Hill will address that, and newcomers Meek, Jamison and Duhon should get more comfortable on a daily basis. In the meantime, Kobe explained what he feels the second unit should bring.
"Just looking for our second unit to establish an identity, an aggressive tone, a physicality that they’ve played with that can alter games – that’s what I’m looking for," said Bryant . "Our first unit, we know what we’re going to do, we know how we’re going to execute, we know what our identity is, so we’re looking for our second group to establish themselves."
Lakers Trim Their Tree
As training camp draws to a close, the Lakers have begun trimming the roster, making four cuts thus far with at least one or two sure to follow in the coming week. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Greg Somogyi, Reeves Nelson and Ronnie Aguilar were all waived from Saturday (Nelson and Aguilar) to Monday, the roster now standing at 16.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said the team won't necessarily use all 15 roster spots afforded to each NBA team, though it is a possibility. The players thought to be vying for the final two spots (with 13 slots likely already determined) are Robert Sacre, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Johnson-Odom, all second round picks from the previous two NBA Drafts. Stay tuned.