Yesterday's victory against the Suns being the second end of a back-to-back, Thursday's practice was light, both on activity and noteworthy events. The reserves got some run, but the starters mostly concentrated on individual exercises to address specific needs. Andrew Bynum worked on his free throw shooting. Ron Artest participated in a shooting drill with Craig Hodges. All pretty run of the mill stuff. And that's just fine, because nobody showed up in El Segundo for scrimmage anecdotes, but rather an update on Lamar Odom.
LO took a hard tumble on a drive to the rack against Phoenix and landed right on his elbow. As it turns out, the collision actually left his shoulder worse for the wear, which is always an issue given Odom's medical history. Also consistent with his history, it's expected Lamar will gut it out, starting Friday against the Hornets. He described himself as "sore," and equated the pain to a sprained ankle. He expects to undergo more treatment and ice before the day is over, but at least was able to maintain his sense of humor.
"I'm gonna have to play right handed," said the decidedly southpaw player with a smile. That would be kinda crazy. i don't know how I'm gonna pull that one off, but I'm gonna try."
Phil Jackson wasn't sure how effective Odom will be against the Hornets, or maybe even for a few games down the line. He described the condition as a "problematic kind of thing that's going to affect him for a while." And while noting Odom's overall activity level shouldn't suffer, the healing process could leave his game less refined.
"It shouldn't affect his activity," explained Jackson. "The only thing that's (affected) obviously is something that involves reaching. Shooting might be affected because of the length of his shot. The follow through."
Assuming the shoulder doesn't shelve Odom, one assumes the D-League reassignment widely expected for rookie Derrick Caracter remains on the near horizon. Fellow rook Devin Ebanks is part of the Bakersfield Jam as we speak, and Caracter has gotten the skinny from his buddy about life in the minors. It's not glamorous, but that's just fine. Caracter sees the assumed move as part of being a professional, and adopting a professional mindset is a big goal while mostly sitting for a championship caliber team.
Derrick has paid attention to examples set by guys like Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol. He's also taken in lessons learned the hard way.
"I used to stay up late in the hotel," shared Caracter of habits broken while on the road. "I'd get into bed and whether watching some movies or talking on the phone, I'd find some games coach caught me off guard. He'd throw me in. I think we was playing away in Detroit and I stayed up kinda late that night and I played a good eight or nine minutes. I wasn't able to perform as well because my legs were just so heavy and I didn't get enough the night before. I was like, "I won't let that happen again."
That quest towards professionalism doesn't appear lost on Jackson. It's always been my impression the brass sees a bright potential in Caracter -- Ebanks, too, for that matter -- but considering the question marks surrounding him in college, what matters even more is the hardhat mentality on display.
"He's a worker," praised Jackson of Caracter. "We like that. He comes to work early and often. Every day he works on his skills. This is a guy that I think is going to have a future in the game."
Finally, I learned a little about the team's new defensive scheme. For starters, as Phil corrected me, it's more "tweaked" than truly "new." But semantics aside, here's how Jackson felt the system's principles, which in a nutshell involve keeping two bodies between the ball and the basket at all times, could come into play against the Hornets:
"We were trying to keep guys in front of us. With Chris Paul, it's one of the effective things maybe to keep him in front of us. A lot of the screen rolls, guys are able to break through. Cross over. Penetrate you to the middle or get through the baseline, anyway. So that's what we're trying to avoid. Get the ball stopped and get the play stopped, so that we can go ourselves in the rotation.
"It requires a somewhat of a change in rotation, but we're still working with the same concepts that we've had before. Trying to get guys to think of the concepts as being the same is the ticket."