When did their rightful swagger go into hiding with seven games remaining in the NBA regular season?
Whether it wasn't properly loaded on the plane trip from San Antonio to Oklahoma City or simply got buried under an avalanche of negative bench statistics, it seems the Lakers are seeking to regain that swagger.
Or something like that.
"It doesn't happen overall in one game," Pau Gasol said on Thursday after practice. "It doesn't happen in one play. Little by little, game by game, we have to build on that confidence and that swagger again."
Coming home having gone 2-3 on a tricky road swing at this stage of the proceedings wouldn't seem to be cause for super-serious concerns.
"I try to bypass the anger and the frustration and just disappointment and concern about some of the breakdowns in our game. And it's the little things that are creating kind of a snowball effect," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
At about the same time Jackson was holding court after practice, former Laker Rick Fox went on his own Twitter account and posed some of the very concerns ricocheting around cyberspace:
"Anything to be concerned about in Lakerville? Are the boys okay? Is a repeat in the cards? Have they gotten soft with success?"
Another voice chimed in on the radio a few hours later on ESPN's 710.
"… And now we're just getting through those road game blues," Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss said in an interview with Steve Mason and John Ireland.
"After a long trip like that, you would think maybe Phil would give them the day off, but he [Jackson] had them here at practice today," she said. "So I would say he's concerned. Dr. [Jerry] Buss came to practice today because I think he missed the team and wanted to show his support."
The players, in the meantime, were hovering in the vast middle ground between unconcern and panic.
"I'm not very concerned," Gasol said. "Obviously, we should all be a little bit concerned so we can snap out of it and get back on the right track."
So, is there a subconscious letdown going on here?
"Definitely not consciously and to be honest, I don't even think subconsciously," Derek Fisher said. "…I don't think it's because we just want to cruise into the playoffs and think we can just push a button and turn it on. Guys are genuinely concerned, frustrated."
Luke Walton (pinched nerve in back) was able to get through a full practice Thursday. Although Walton is not expected to play Friday against Utah, he remains on schedule to return soon.
"We're hopeful he'll have a good response to this practice and have availability on Sunday [against San Antonio]," Jackson said.
Meanwhile Andrew Bynum, who has missed six games, will have his strained left Achilles' tendon reevaluated Friday by team doctor Steve Lombardo.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your computers: The Lakers announced that individual game tickets for the first round of the playoffs will go on sale on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. As usual, tickets are available via Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com and 1-800-4-NBA-TIX, but will not be available at the Staples Center box office.