They’re looking for a good ‘bye’ week

Bresnahan is a Times staff writer.

It’s a strange time for a quirk in the schedule, but the Lakers are trying to embrace it.

By the time Sunday rolls around, they’ll have played only one game in eight days, the NBA equivalent of an NFL “bye” in Week 2.

It’s early and it’s unusual, but the Lakers are calling it an opportunity, using the three days before Wednesday’s home game against the Clippers and the three days after it to work on screen-and-roll defense and reducing turnovers in half-court sets.

Other than that, there’s not much to do beyond wondering aloud about all the free time.


“I really haven’t had a week like this ever since I’ve been in the league,” said Kobe Bryant, who told teammates before Monday’s practice that this would be a good time to clean up a few minor things in an otherwise solid 3-0 start. “It’s a great opportunity for us to make some improvements. We can sharpen up.”

Early peculiarities aside, the Lakers’ schedule is fairly friendly.

There are no trips like last season’s nine-game monster that kept them away from home for 15 days. They have a seven-game trip that starts in late March, but their reward comes quickly after that -- five of their last seven games at Staples Center.

Regardless, they should be plenty rested by the time they play Houston on Sunday. They’ll probably be tired of seeing each other too.


“A week of more practice than games is just not what you look forward to,” Derek Fisher said.

Bynum day to day

Andrew Bynum suffered a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder when he tried to block Chris Mihm’s dunk attempt at Monday’s practice, though he was not expected to sit out Wednesday’s game.

In fact, he might be back on the court today.


“I don’t even think it’s going to bother him coming back to practice,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “It was just the normal action that happens in basketball a lot.”

Bynum said his arm was yanked back and that it was “just a little tight.”

Blockbuster? Maybe

The first big trade of the NBA season sent Allen Iverson from Denver to Detroit for Chauncey Billups and two other players, though it probably won’t affect the top of the Western Conference standings.


The Nuggets were considered a marginal playoff team at best.

“It’ll change the West up a little bit,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to see how Allen fits in over there in Detroit.”

Dog days

Bryant’s popularity even extends to the animal kingdom.


From a database of more than 465,000 pets insured by Veterinary Pet Insurance (indeed, it’s medical coverage for dogs, cats, birds and exotic domesticated animals), 359 pets are named “Kobe,” making it the 189th-most popular name out of 65,536 pet names across the nation.

Five pets in the database are named “LeBron,” two are named “Yao Ming,” and there’s a “Boston Garnett” along with a “Dirk Nowitzki.”

The most unusual sports name in the pet world, however, might belong to a Yorkshire Terrier that answers to “Kobe Shaq Jackson.”