Week 3 saw
Kobe Bryant finally return to practice after sitting out since April with an Achilles injury.
Although he still doesn't have a
return timeline, Bryant clearly has made some progress over the past few weeks. Without him, the Lakers have struggled through a heavy schedule.
The status of
Steve Nash, out with nerve issues in his back, is also in question. Though it's expected he'll only be out of a couple of weeks, and he's working diligently to return, the Lakers would gain financial flexibility this summer if Nash retires.
The Lakers began the week with a
116-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Jordan Hill made an impression, putting up a career high in his first start of season.
Through nine games, Coach
Mike D'Antoni has used six different starting lineups. The additions of Hill and Wesley Johnson added badly needed toughness and defensive presence to the starting group.
With Bryant sidelined, the Lakers saw their
home sellout streak end at 270 games, which meant some missed out on Xavier Henry's monster dunk against the Pelicans -- easily the highlight of the week.
As a team, the Lakers have struggled at the free-throw line (at least through Tuesday) -- no better than a year ago when
Dwight Howard skewed the percentages downward.
The Lakers lost on Wednesday to the
Denver Nuggets, playing a road game on the second night of a back-to-back.
On Friday, the team played well, but fell short in an
89-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The team rebounded with a strong showing, especially in the second half, over the
Detroit Pistons with a 114-99 victory. Pau Gasol's photo book "Life Vida" was released, giving a glimpse of the Lakers' center/forward beyond the court.
NBA gave fans a peek of the Christmas Day jerseys before their debut on the court. Three Lakers (Bryant, Gasol and Nash) are listed on NBA All-Star game ballot.
Rookies Ryan Kelly and
Elias Harris were assigned to the D-Fenders.
Email Eric Pincus at
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.