EL SEGUNDO, Calif. The time has come for another Los Angeles Lakers' team dinner and viewing party.
The question is, will Kobe Bryant pick up the tab again?
"As MVP, I think he's going to step up," Sasha Vujacic said.
"He's got to, you can't break tradition," Jordan Farmar said.
Added Luke Walton: "I don't know, he doesn't have to, he's already picked up two in a row. It has been good luck for us the last two times."
The Lakers gathered before the playoffs for a players-only dinner, and went on to sweep Denver in the first round. Bryant paid the bill.
Then, they got together May 2 to watch the final game of the Houston-Utah series. Bryant got the check again.
Having eliminated the Jazz in six games, the Lakers will watch tonight's seventh game of the San Antonio-New Orleans series at a site to be determined to see who'll they face in the Western Conference finals, which begin Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Bryant wasn't around the team practice facility Sunday to discuss the matter, having been given the day off by coach Phil Jackson. Fellow starters Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol had the same option, but Gasol showed up for treatment on his ankle and back.
Except for Vujacic, the other Lakers took part in an informal workout of around 90 minutes that included conditioning, light scrimmaging and shooting. Vujacic received treatment for a sore neck, the result of a charging foul he took from Paul Millsap late in Friday night's 108-105 series-clinching victory at Utah, and a sore right big toe.
"I'm doing better, two days of rest," Vujacic said. "I took a charge, it was worth it. We got away with a win. It was for a good cause. I just did what I had to do. It didn't feel good afterward."
Nevertheless, Vujacic's teammates teased him following the game.
"My first charge of the year," he said with a sheepish grin.
Vujacic, who scored 12 points in the finale against Utah and is averaging 8.7 points in the playoffs, said it didn't matter whether the Lakers faced the Spurs or the Hornets.
"Both point guards (San Antonio's Tony Parker and New Orleans' Chris Paul) are very good," he said. "We're familiar with both teams. Both matchups are really good. I think it's going to be an exciting series, no matter who we play."