After going through two straight practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kobe Bryant skipped Thursday’s session, as he works his way back from the Achilles tear he suffered in April.
“It’s just precautionary,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I know everybody is eager but it’s going to be a little bit of a process to make sure he’s healthy when he comes back.”
Aside from Bryant’s ongoing process to return to the floor, Steve Nash also continues to rehabilitate after missing the last 10 days because of nerve root irritation.
“Steve is progressing,” D’Antoni said. “He’s still in the process of working out and getting back his conditioning, trying to get over the nerve (issue) and get his body aligned. It’ll probably be another week or 10 days, and he’ll try it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, he’ll go back and try again.”
Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell reported the plan for Nash is to fly to Vancouver next week while the team is on their three-game road trip at Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit. He will rejoin the club when they return on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The three practices in the last week for the team is an NBA rarity, as the club had played 12 games in 20 days prior – the most of any club in the league – including three sets of back-to-back contests. In advance of Friday’s tilt against Golden State, the coaching staff emphasized particular defensive schemes to counter the Warriors’ high-powered offense.
“We just worked on a lot of their sets and what they do; pick and roll defense, getting out to their three-point shooters, making sure we run them off the line,” D’Antoni said. “It’s normal stuff we do against every team except Golden State does it as good as anybody.”
The Warriors rank first in the league in three-pointers made per game (10.6) and rank second in three-point field goal percentage (44.9). In particular, Klay Thompson leads the league in three-pointers made (40), while shooting 48.8 percent from distance. Thompson scored 38 points against the Lakers in Golden State’s home opener on Oct. 30, and is averaging a career-best 20.6 points per game this year. Stephen Curry, who missed the team’s last game because of a concussion, also ranks among the league leaders in three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage. He is expected to play on Friday, according to the team.
The Lakers defense, however, has improved over the last four games, in large part because of the play of Jordan Hill. Opponents are averaging 98.5 points on 43.0 percent field goals and 26.9 percent on three-pointers in that span, compared to the first eight games when teams put up 106.5 points and shot 46.4 percent field goals and 40.2 percent from distance. Wesley Johnson’s length at the starting three has also keyed the team’s success on the defensive end.
“We’re much more comfortable defensively and what we’re trying to do, and they’re reacting without thinking,” D’Antoni said. “We got the rotations down a little bit better, guys are more comfortable, we have guys that are playing really well.”