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After a week of strange weather, schedules and antics from their Slovenian 3-point shooter, the Lakers returned to practice Friday with a renewed focus.

Partly because their early season almost-bye-week was coming to a merciful close. But mostly because they were gearing up for what should be their first big test of the new season.

The Houston Rockets are due in on Sunday –complete with a healthy Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, and a well-behaving Ron Artest — then it’s off to Dallas and New Orleans for an early season evaluation against two of their main challengers to the Western Conference crown.

“It should be a big test to go out and compete with them and show us where we’re at,” Lakers center Pau Gasol said. “They’re all very challenging and tough. I think it should be a good test, each and every one of those games to see where we’re at.”

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