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Lakers rushing to hone offense, defense without Kobe Bryant

Lakers rushing to hone offense, defense without Kobe Bryant
Veteran Steve Blake, elevating for a pass around Warriors guard Klay Thompson, is one of three Lakers averaging four assists a game in the preseason. (Kevin Lee / Getty Images)

On Sunday, the Lakers did their best to play through their first practice since returning from a preseason trip to China as part of the NBA's 2013 Global Games. 

Stepping away from training camp to fly halfway around the world can be disruptive, given that the Lakers have nine new faces currently on the roster.

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With Kobe Bryant still sidelined as he recovers from Achilles' tendon surgery, the Lakers need time throughout the preseason to establish an identity.

"We’re trying to get more disciplined and our offense, trying to get in your spots and the same on defense -- trying to get back on transition and get our bigs up on pick and rolls and trap a little bit better," Coach Mike D'Antoni said.  "We still have nine days of work and we have to get ready for the opening game."

The Lakers start the season playing host to the Clippers at Staples Center on Oct. 29.

Nick Young has stepped into a role of high-volume shooter.  Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman have established themselves as a skilled front-court tandem.

Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar, who is back for his second tour with the team, are averaging at least 4.0 assists in exhibition games as the team's primary offensive initiators.

Of course, once Bryant returns, the Lakers will have to adjust to whatever he has to offer.

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It's unclear whether he'll return to his old All-Star level immediately. It may take weeks, months or even a full season for Bryant to truly get back to form.

"He's a little bit better but not quite yet," D'Antoni said. "He's still got to get on the floor and start basketball stuff."

Does he have any idea when Bryant might practice?

"No," the coach answered.

In the meantime, the team can't sit and wait for Bryant.

"We're not focusing on that," Nash said. "He'll be back when he's back, and hopefully he's back better than ever, but we've got to work on the guys that are on the floor and try to prepare to play."

While the trip to China might be great for the league's globalization efforts, it can take its toll on a team.

"My body is adjusting but so far so good," Gasol said Sunday.  "It's just the regular process of a long, exhausting trip because it was pretty intense plus the traveling, time change, the whole thing.  We got good work in today. I liked how the guys came in and were focused, ready to practice."

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Adjusting to a 15-hour time change is not an easy task.

"The first night I didn't get a chance to sleep until 5 or 5:30," Young said. "I tried to get to bed a little early last night but I was sitting there looking at the ceiling."

Ben Bolch contributed to this report.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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