Thursday Practice Report

Here’s a round up from Thursday’s Lakers practice before the team headed to Las Vegas in advance of the team’s fifth preseason game.

Jordan Hill Returns To Practice:
Jordan Hill, who was diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back after the team’s first preseason game, went through non-contact drills for the first time since getting injured.

“He did everything that was non-contact, which was good, because it was the first time in awhile that he had a chance to go out there in script,” coach Mike Brown said. “For us, the way we’re playing, he’s got to know specific routes and reads, so there’s a lot that he still needs to do to play catch up. He didn’t do anything live.”

Brown was uncertain about when Hill will return to game action, but did note that it was a positive sign the 6-foot-10 power forward was out on the floor again.

“(The trainers) haven’t given a specific timetable yet, but I know they’re taking this one step at a time,” Brown noted. “The thing that surprised me – I knew he was going to be able to do non-contact stuff today – is we did a warm-up drill where you’re required to run and get out and go a little bit. He got out and ran and they let him do it, so that was a little surprising to me, but it was good to see.”

Gasol Wants More On Defense:
Pau Gasol wants to see more improvement from his teammates on that end of the floor in the next four preseason games, and in the regular season as well.

“I want us to be solid on the defensive end,” the 7-foot Spaniard explained. “That’s what I want to see us do. I want us to be consistent every single game. I want us to stop teams and choke them. That’s what I like to see. Offensively, we have enough talent on this team to be able to score, but if we defend like we’re supposed to do and want to, it’ll be very, very hard to beat us.

Brown echoed similar sentiments, citing transition defense as an area where the team collectively needs to improve, too.

“The one thing I’ve been disappointed in – if there is one thing – is in all four games our transition defense hasn’t been good,” he said. “Even in our last game, whether we’re winning or losing or we don’t have certain guys, we can still get back the right way and make them at least let them score over a contested defense or have the defensive presence and they got to many uncontested layups and/or shots in transition. I told our guys: ‘Let’s do a better job collectively as a group with our transition defense no matter who is on the floor.’”

Dwight Howard’s Return?
The Lakers center continues to make progress, he says, but his main concern – as has been said before – is getting his stamina back.

“It’s conditioning,” Howard stated. “That’s the main thing. Like I told you guys: ‘I don’t want to go out there fatigued and injure something else.’ Most of the time, that’s when you (get) injuries. So I just want to make sure I’m in pretty good shape to play.”

Howard continues to participate in full contact, 5-on-5 scrimmages during practice, and so far, he maintains there is no concern about having any setbacks.

“I came too far from where I was at to go backwards now,” he noted. “I want to continue to work hard as I can every day when I step on the court and make myself better and my teammates better.”