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Shaquille O'Neal deflated the debate over medical definitions and removed some ambiguity from the discussion of his physical readiness Thursday, joining teammates for a light practice before the Lakers departed for Sacramento.

O'Neal isn't ready to play and did not make the trip. But his participation in half-court drills signaled he is close to rejoining the lineup, probably next week and perhaps as soon as Monday's home game against Phoenix.

"I'll try to practice a little more Sunday, and hopefully I can go next week," O'Neal said.

The goal now is to prevent such injuries from recurring. O'Neal has been working daily with specialist Alex McKechnie to refine his stride, which has been altered by continued pain in his right big toe. The hope is that teaching O'Neal to walk correctly again, without regard to the toe, will put less strain on his legs.

"It's easy. That's how you're supposed to walk," O'Neal said. "When you're in pain all the time, you just want to ease the pain. It's not a major adjustment. I just have to walk like I used to walk."

O'Neal has not run full court yet but did do some light jogging Thursday.

"I just wanted him to be in traffic and to get on the court and touch the ball and feel bodies around him and rebound and do some things like that, reaction things," Jackson said. "He looks fine. He looks like he's close."

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