Defense, bench play, and the productivity of Lamar Odom and the big men are all issues for the Lakers, who stressed patience but also indicated that they know the importance of turning things around quickly. Since a momentum-building victory over San Antonio on Jan.17, the Lakers have lost nine of 13 games. “The West is so tough,” forward Luke Walton said. “We know if we don’t start winning, we’re just going to keep falling and falling (down the standings).” EL SEGUNDO – The Lakers returned to the comforts of home – bed, meals, sunshine – but they couldn’t escape the figurative stench of their East Coast road trip, which ended with a 3-5 record. The Lakers have two home games – tonight against New York and Thursday against Cleveland – before the All-Star break, and a sense of urgency set in during a lengthy practice Monday afternoon. Not that Walton can do a lot about it right now. Additional tests Monday revealed that Walton has nothing more than a sprained ankle, which was previously diagnosed, but he continues to experience pain while attempting basketball drills. Walton will wait at least onemore week before practicing again. So the Lakers, without Walton and Kwame Brown, will attempt to get some revenge on the Knicks and Cavaliers, the teams that served as troubled bookends for their long and troubling road trip. “It’s still early,” Odom said. “We’re still growing as a team. We’ve got a little break coming up, so hopefully we can go into that strong and rest up for a nice run. “There’s still 30 games to play. We’re all talking about this now, but if we put a little streak together, we’ll forget about this. We’re going to make the playoffs. We’re trying to position ourselves for home court.” Defense was the theme Monday, not surprisingly. In their past three games the Lakers have allowed 93, 96 and 99points, and during the eight-game trip they averaged 95.6 points allowed. “We’ve got the athletes and youth and we’re quick,” Odom said. “We just need the right mentality.” Resting up: Kobe Bryant was a no-show on the practice court, taking a day of rest prescribed by coach Phil Jackson after Bryant played 44 minutes on Sunday. Bryant played all but 18 seconds of the second half and nearly carried the Lakers to victory. “He feels pretty good,” Jackson said of Bryant. “I’ve been a guy who wants guys to practice a lot, but at his age and with his experience, practice can be more of a debilitating thing.” Another week: It’s still unknown whether Walton will be able to play a week from Wednesday, when the Lakers resume their season after the All-Star break. Walton walked on an exercise machine during practice and seemed encouraged that Monday’s tests revealed nothing more than the damage normally associated with a Grade I ankle sprain. “It feels good when I’m walking around. It feels like I’m going to be able to play,” Walton said. “But then I do some basketball moves and there’s some pain. … It’s just something I’m going to have to let settle down for a week.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!