Young players earn respect of an elder
The kids were more than all right. They were a reason for victory.
Coach Phil Jackson had said more than once that Andrew Bynum was good for only six to eight minutes at a time, but there was the 19-year-old Wednesday, playing the final 19 minutes 21 seconds in a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Minnesota. Sharing the court with him for a 25-4 run to start the fourth quarter was 20-year-old Jordan Farmar, who finished with seven assists and no turnovers.
It was enough to earn an endorsement from a certain former teenager.
“They’re getting ahold of it a little bit,” Kobe Bryant said Thursday after the Lakers concluded practice at a Manhattan sports club. “They really had a good performance, and we need that. For us, it’s double positive because they’re so young. It bodes well for their confidence.”
Bynum had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots, his best all-around game since being relegated to backup status three weeks ago.
“Going out there and getting that time was definitely a big thing for me, because I had been playing about 10 minutes a game since about the 12th game of the season,” he said. “It was a little new to me.
“Some games, I really wear down after eight minutes and then some games I feel like I’m not tired at all. I don’t know why that is. I guess I found my second wind [Wednesday]. And I guess you get your second wind the more you keep playing, the more you experience being out there and pushing through that.”
It was all fine with Bryant, who played only 30 minutes after averaging 45.2 minutes in the Lakers’ previous five games.
“It was good to have a ballgame like that,” Bryant said. “The season’s so long, you need that, whether you’re 28 years old or 20 years old.”
That the Lakers are winning without Lamar Odom is worth noting, although they’d obviously like him back. He did not travel with the team for the six-game trip, staying in Los Angeles for therapy and rest.
He suffered a sprained knee ligament Dec. 12 against Houston and is expected to miss four to eight weeks.
“We’ll probably know something after the new year, a little bit [about] how things are going,” Jackson said. “The minimum of a month is kind of like a parameter. There’s a possibility of two months, so we’re not, like, saying, ‘Jan. 12, he’s going to be back,’ or whatever the date was. We just know that this is something that we’ll just have to wait.”
The Lakers are off to a smooth start, but the Phoenix Suns have jumped two games ahead of them in the Pacific Division thanks to a 15-game winning streak. It’s not a concern of Jackson’s.
“No, not at all,” he said. “They just keep winning. We would love to have been able to keep pace with them, but that’s not important.”
at New Jersey, 4:30 PST (5:30, Ch. 9)
Site -- Continental Airlines Arena.
Radio -- 570, 1330.
Records -- Lakers 17-9, Nets 11-14.
Record vs. Nets -- 1-0.
Update -- In the Lakers’ 99-93 victory last month over the Nets, Kobe Bryant’s shot wasn’t falling -- 19 points on eight-for-24 shooting -- but he had 10 assists and only two turnovers. For what it’s worth, the Nets lead the watered-down Atlantic Division. Andrew Bynum, a native of Plainsboro, N.J., played high school basketball at Metuchen St. Joseph.