The Lakers returned home Friday from their eight-day fiesta, with the rainy sprawl of London and sunny beaches of Barcelona quickly becoming distant memories.
Coach Phil Jackson could only sigh at what had happened over the past semana — players missing the bus to practice, exhibition games lost to inferior opponents, fun carrying the day over work — even though two weeks ago he predicted training camp would be a "bust" because of all the traveling.
But the players get it too, allegedly, even Pau Gasol, who was singled out by Jackson as the culprit for the Wednesday morning ditch day in which almost half the team failed to show up on time for practice because of a late night in Spain.
It's time, so say the players, to start thinking about the start of the regular season on Oct. 26.
"Obviously, we look forward to getting back to L.A. and really start getting into a routine and a normal training camp," Gasol said this week. "This trip has been really hectic and really weary. [It's] exciting but at the same time, it's not the best scenario for us to get better at this point of the year. Obviously we wouldn't be really ready if we would continue with this kind of pace with [social] events and all that."
Neither Gasol nor Kobe Bryant played well in the team's first two exhibition games.
Bryant is now shooting two for 19 from the court, a ghastly 10.5% accuracy. Gasol followed up a seven-point, five-foul, four-turnover effort against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a seven-for-21 shooting night against FC Barcelona, his former team.
The Lakers would happily point out that these are exhibition games, and that each player had an excuse. Gasol was rusty from doing nothing basketball-related this summer, by design, and Bryant was deliberately coming back slowly from off-season knee surgery.
In fact, Bryant participated in only three practices and six minutes of the exhibition opener before firing away with 25 minutes Thursday in Spain.
The stats, absolutely meaningless in the grander scheme, weren't what Bryant was studying after the loss to FC Barcelona.
In fact, he seemed happy, a rarity for him when the Lakers don't win, posing for numerous photographs with Barcelonans after recounting what mattered to him from here on out.
"Get your rhythm, get your shots down, get your legs underneath you, get up and down, which I haven't been doing," he said. "All my shots so far have been a half-court thing — catching and shooting, not really running, stopping and shooting. It's very important to do this."
The Lakers have six more exhibition games and a little more than two weeks until opening night.
Perhaps Gasol said it best.
"We still have a long way to go as far as the work that we have to put in," he said, "and the level that we have to reach."
He's ready now
Overlooked among the awkward stats posted by Gasol and Bryant in Europe was the fact that Lamar Odom looked incredibly active, undoubtedly because of his off-season work with Team USA.
Odom was probably the second-best U.S. player after Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant in a successful run at last month's world championships in Turkey, and he carried his play into the Lakers' exhibition season.
He logged a staggering 41 minutes against FC Barcelona and had 12 points to go with 18 rebounds. He was the Lakers' leading scorer in the exhibition opener against the Timberwolves, finishing with 17 points in 27 minutes.
If Odom had the Lakers' best on-court effort in Europe, Luke Walton had the worst time.
He experienced a pain-free training camp as far as his persistently sore back, but then sustained a strained hamstring while running sprints at practice earlier this week.
Walton will be reevaluated in the next few days, though it is obviously not the start he envisioned.