Lakers back in town, and back to work, in a big way

They’re back.

And if the Lakers needed any proof that Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t pleased with how their European excursion went and that it was time to get serious, they got it Saturday at practice.

Jackson worked his players for three-plus hours at the team’s training facility.

He said it was because his team “is not playing well” after two exhibition losses in Europe, because the Lakers were “out of focus a little bit” and because they didn’t “have a lot of practice time” while in London to play the Minnesota Timberwolves and in Barcelona, Spain, to play FC Barcelona.


So after an 11-hour flight Friday from Spain to Los Angeles, Jackson had his players at work Saturday before he gave them Sunday off. They will practice again Monday.

“For a long day yesterday, a long flight, I think the guys played pretty well,” Jackson said after practice.

Kobe Bryant, still recovering from right knee surgery that limited his time and effectiveness in Europe, didn’t practice Saturday. Neither did Andrew Bynum (right knee) or Luke Walton (right hamstring).

Jackson said he was “heartened” by Walton’s progress.

After watching Bryant go two for 19 while playing 31 minutes in the two exhibition games, including 25 in Barcelona, Jackson said his star guard has a ways to go.

“I didn’t like the way he looked on the floor, personally,” Jackson said. “He wanted to be competitive and try to keep the game competitive. He’s decidedly not ready yet to play. And yet he went out and gave an effort, which is nice. But I’m going to have to talk to him about some of the progress as we go through this training camp.”

Jackson talked about what he needs to see from Bryant.

“Right now, he just doesn’t have the power,” Jackson said. “He just doesn’t have the strength. I think he’s doing OK, but he’s going to have to find that strength, and he will.

“But obviously right now, he still can’t get his shot off to the point where he wants to get it. And the rest of the game has got to be coordinated with the team and these players so he’s in sync with what we’re doing.”

Slimmed-down Artest

Last season, Ron Artest came to camp weighing over 265 pounds. This season, he said, he came to training camp at “250 to 260 pounds.”

His goal is to weigh “245 by the playoffs.”

“I feel I’m able to maintain some more with the quicker guys,” Artest said. “I knew with Kobe’s knee, he is going to need reinforcement so I’m going to have to be able to guard quicker guys.

“I guess when we get to the championship I’ll worry about the big weight guy later, LeBron [James]. He’s not losing weight. Right now we’re in the West, and Kevin Durant, all these guys, they are getting better. We’re getting older, but they’re getting better and older. So, I didn’t want to be 260, 270 when I have to go up against the All-Stars like Carmelo [Anthony].”

Artest said he stopped drinking alcohol at the end of July and that helped him lose weight.

He talked about other diet topics and the Food Network before he left the media with this little nugget.

“Even if they legalize marijuana, I won’t be smoking marijuana,” Artest said, smiling.