Day off

No practice today.
Good day to do taxes, laundry, re-connect with the family, walk the dog, look at what’s left for the Lakers. … Eight games remaining. … Probably can’t win ’em all, but might need to in order to win the West.
Here’s a closer look:
Portland, Wednesday at Staples (Gasol might return).
Dallas, Friday at Staples (Mavs not the same since Kidd trade).
Sacramento, Sunday at Arco Arena (Kings sure to be in spoiler mode).
Portland, April 8 at Rose Garden (Blazers always tough at home).
Clippers, April 10 at Staples (Lakers go for Hallway Series sweep).
New Orleans, April 11 at Staples (Paul/West/Chandler formidable trio).
San Antonio, April 13 at Staples (Spurs playing like champs again).
Sacramento, April 15 at Staples (Chance to rest Bryant, Fisher and Odom?)
Playoffs start either April 19 or 20. Probably the 20th for the Lakers since ABC will want them for their Sunday afternoon national telecast.

Backcourt troubles

With Kobe Bryant nursing a damaged right pinkie that will need surgery after he’s won the gold medal with Team USA at the Beijing Olympics and Derek Fisher trying to play with a partially torn tendon in his right foot, the Lakers’ backcourt suddenly looks fragile.
Bryant and Fisher are hurting just as the team’s 7-footers are starting to return.
Chris Mihm played five minutes-plus in Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies and Pau Gasol might play Sunday against the Wizards, although Wednesday against the Blazers might be a better guess. Andrew Bynum might be back before the end of the regular season.
Trouble is, this team hasn’t been 100 percent healthy at any time this season. It could prove costly down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Pau practices

Pau Gasol practiced for the first time since spraining his left ankle March 14. He wasn’t sure if he would play Sunday against the Wizards of Washington.
His post-practice comments:
“Well, I went out there and I tried to move around and go up and down and just try to do some basketball moves. Some felt good and some didn’t feel that good. … It was a first step. I’m still pretty sore. I don’t know. I’m still doubtful (for the Washington game).”
Of his conidtioning, or lack thereof, he said:
“It’s been better.”
Of sitting out for eight games, including Friday’s defeat against Memphis, his old team, he said:
“It hurt (to watch) against Charlotte. It hurt even more against Memphis. Just because it’s two games we definitely should have won. We’ve got to take care of our home court no matter what, but especially against teams we should beat.”

House of horrors

Phil Jackson shared a few thoughts after Thursday’s practice on the Lakers’ lackluster play at home of late. He put some of the blame on Staples Center, which wasn’t the first time he’s taken a few shots at the dark and uninviting downtown arena. Recently, he said the Lakers don’t have an advantage at home because they share the building with the Clippers and opponents have grown comfortable playing there.
Anyway, here’s Jackson’s rant:
“We have a terrific road record (25-13). I’m not pleased with our home record (24-10) at all. It could just be Staples itself. The building, the familiarity, the way you have to drive there — all those kinds of things. Guys are tired of going down there and playing. It’s a dingy, dirty kind of place. I think there’s methane gas or something in the building.”

Gasol shoots hoops

Pau Gasol had his first significant workout since spraining his left ankle in the early moments of the Lakers’ loss March 14 against New Orleans.
He shot baskets after practice and worked on a few moves with assistant coach Kurt Rambis acting as a defender and with athletic trainer Gary Vitti keeping a close watch on the workout.
Gasol’s post-workout comments:
“It’s the first day I could do some stuff on the court. It’s a big step forward because I felt pretty good. I was pretty sore on some moves, but I kind of expected that. I have to go through a full practice (before deciding whether to play). I’ll wait until Saturday to go through a full practice.”
Gasol said Wednesday he would probably wait until next Wednesday’s game against Portland to make his return, and that still might be the best-case scenario. How well he recovers from his workout will probably determine the next move.
The Lakers have to balance Gasol’s need for a slow, steady and certain recovery and their need for a versatile 7-foot center down the stretch.

Quiet Kobe

Kobe Bryant had nothing to say about his ejection from the Lakers’ loss Wednesday to Charlotte. He left the El Segundo practice facility without speaking to reporters. He also didn’t talk after the game.
He has a league-leading 15 technical fouls this season. One more and he’ll have to serve a one-game suspension.
Phil Jackson didn’t have much to say either, but he did offer a mild defense of Bryant, who was ejected from a game for the second time in as many months. Jackson defended Bryant’s routine of passing the ball to referees by kicking it over to them soccer-style.
“He did not intentionally or to any degree think in any way that he was going to get that last technical,” Jackson told reporters. “He’s kind of punted the ball over to the referees for about the last week and a half. This one, the referee just wasn’t going to take it.”

One more and Kobe’s out!

In case you’d already turned off the Lakers’ disappointing loss to the Bobcats tonight, Kobe Bryant picked up his 14th and 15th technical fouls near the end of the game. You know what that means…. One more technical and Bryant will be suspended for a game.

Gasol might be out until next week

Pau Gasol said before tonight’s game against Charlotte that he re-aggravated his ankle injury and might not play until next Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not until Wednesday that he plays again,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We’re hopeful it’s Sunday. We’ll have to let time take its course.”

Does it matter?

This will be a daily question in coaches meetings and from the media until the end of the season. This is what Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to say about the Western Conference playoff race and whether first place really matters, on Monday night.

Theres a great amount of prestige in finishing in first place after 82 games. Its as simple as that. It does not win you anything in the playoffs. It wins you the seeding, but as we know in the West it can be a recipe for an upset (No. 8 Golden State upset No. 1 Dallas last season). This year, theres a lot of chance for anyplace being an upset.