--Guard Kyle Lowry made a surprise return to Rockets practice, nearly a month after he was hospitalized and just a week after he was cleared to return to any physical activity.
He has a long road back, but went from unsure if he would play again this season to confident that he will.
"This process has gone really fast," he said. "It's gone faster than I believed it would happen. I'll just take it day by day.
"I have a better feeling. I definitely have a better feeling about coming back this season."
Lowry said he is still rehabbing the groin injury that sent him to the hospital March 8, eventually leading to the discovery of the infection.
"I want to help my teammates," he said. "The way they're playing, I just want to help in any way. My teammates are the best. They really appreciate me and I really appreciate them. It's a great locker room. I think we have a great group of guys.
"It was fun. It was good to be out there. Huge from where I thought I was going to be a couple weeks ago. It's always just a work in progress every day, one step at a time. Just go out there and see how I feel tomorrow and take every day, day-by-day."
--With a rare break in the schedule offering a chance to get two days in of practice, the Rockets worked extensively on their interior defense.
The Rockets have allowed an average of 45.4 points per game in the paint, more than all but two teams. They allowed 56 to the Lakers, but kept them under control down the stretch.
"It always starts with individual defense," he said. "You have to battle ... as much as you possibly can. We have to get our digging schemes, our trapping schemes, our helping the big guy out -- tighten that up, too."
The Rockets were helped by Andrew Bynum picking up two technical fouls. But they double teamed Kobe Bryant when he posted up, holding him to just four fourth-quarter points.
"That's been the emphasis with these two days of practices, defense, post defense, trapping and double-teaming," Marcus Camby said. "Coach doesn't really like to double-team a lot, but sometimes you have to mix it up. You have to mix up our defenses, give these good players different looks."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"The guys are fighters. This group right here, they'll go out there and lay it on the line." -- Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
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