The Lakers are coming off a high, an intense win against Western Conference rival Denver.
Their elation stems partly from Ron Artest's tenacious defense Sunday against Nuggets All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, plus Lamar Odom's stellar fourth quarter in which he scored nine of his game-high 20 points and collected eight of his 12 rebounds.
Now the Lakers have to zero in on a far lesser opponent.
They play the struggling Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night at Staples Center. The Pacers are 20-39 and have lost seven of their last 10 games.
"I know we're going to go out there and play hard. I know that for a fact," Artest said after practice Monday. "We've been playing hard lately. We haven't been able to get the wins that we want to. Sometimes we play and we lose. But the main thing is to come out tomorrow and we play hard and it'll work itself out."
Bryant searches for his jumper
So, Kobe Bryant, what's going on with your jump shot these days?
"Well, three for 17, I'd say it's a little [messed] up," Bryant said, laughing.
He was referring to his performance Sunday against the Nuggets.
One reason for the concern is that Bryant sat out 18 days — and five games — recovering from a sprained left ankle. Then he came back against the Memphis Grizzlies last week and looked as if he hadn't missed a game.
Bryant was 13 for 19 from the field, including the game-winning three-pointer with 4.3 seconds left. He also made a three-pointer with 54 seconds left to tie the score.
But since that game, Bryant has shot 19 for 56 (33.9%) from the field. He has missed all six of his three-point attempts.
"I had a lot of time off where I wasn't able to shoot the basketball, so that's why it's inconsistent," Bryant said. "Now I've got a chance to get in and kind of work on it a little bit. I did a little bit today and I'll do a little more tomorrow and get it back to that level of consistency that it needs to."
After practice Monday, Bryant played one-on-one against two kids.
On one play, he demonstrated why he is such a competitor, swatting the little kid's shot away and then smiling while talking trash.
"No mercy," Bryant said, laughing. "There's nothing wrong with posting up a little kid. He wants to play one-on-one, he knows full well what he was getting into. Naw, it was fun."
Sasha Vujacic, who has been out because of a sprained right shoulder, has been unable to practice, but said he hopes to be available next Monday after the Lakers return home from a three-game trip.
Luke Walton, who has been out because of a pinched nerve in his back, worked out on an exercise machine Monday and said his back felt good, but that "good is a relative term right now."
Bryant was asked what his reaction was to Denver Coach George Karl's saying the Lakers turned the game into a wrestling match.
"That's encouraging for us," said Bryant, knowing that his team has been labeled soft. "We've always been the cupcake team. I'm happy to hear that."