Andrew Bynum has a request for Coach Phil Jackson, something that’s more than a minor favor to ask -- he wants more playing time in the fourth quarter.
The 21-year-old Lakers center has sat out the final minutes of the team’s last three close games.
He did not play the last 3:49 against Phoenix, the last 6:12 against Sacramento and the last 5:41 against Washington. He also sat out all but 12 seconds of the last 5:32 against Indiana.
“I don’t understand why I’m not in at the end of the game,” Bynum said. “It doesn’t make much sense to me, but it’s something I have to deal with. I haven’t been in foul trouble the last couple of games, so I have no idea.”
Bynum has struggled with pick-and-roll defense, and Jackson believes there is no margin for error in the late stages of tight games, of which there have been many for the Lakers.
“When he shows the ability to play defense appropriately, he’ll probably be there,” Jackson said. “Andrew’s doing really well and he’s making great progress, but there are times in the game down the stretch [where] we’ve got to have the best defenders, guys that have been through it -- and that was the team we had last year in the playoffs. They know how to help each other.”
The Lakers have been going with Lamar Odom instead of Bynum down the stretch.
Bynum said he could add “scoring, rebounding, maybe a block” in crunch time.
“You won’t know until you actually get the opportunity to play,” he said. “I would like to play. I’m there, I’m ready to play. I don’t understand why I’m not.”
Despite the lack of quality fourth-quarter time, Bynum’s play has been on an uptick. He is averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, and shooting a notable 62.1% in his last six games.
“You miss seven months, it takes a little while to get back up to game speed,” he said. “I’m still not there, but I’m getting there.”
First to third
Vladimir Radmanovic went from a starter averaging 21.5 minutes a game to a third-string small forward who didn’t even play against Phoenix.
“It’s tough to get three guys in there at the same position comfortably,” Jackson said.
Luke Walton, who had eight points and six assists in Radmanovic’s place against Phoenix, said he had been thinking about a return to the starting lineup for a while.
“I missed it from the first game of the season,” said Walton, who started 91 games the previous two seasons. “Every game that you sit there is hard. It’s so much fun to be out there playing.”
Walton is expected to start again tonight against Sacramento. Trevor Ariza, as usual, will be the small forward on the second unit.
The Lakers signed a five-year deal Thursday with 710 ESPN, ending a long relationship with 570 KLAC as the team’s radio broadcast partner.
The contract kicks into effect next season, with Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson continuing to call the games on radio.
Jeanie Buss, executive vice president of business operations for the Lakers, called the move “exciting but somewhat bittersweet” in a statement.
“KLAC has been a wonderful partner for more than three decades, and we greatly respect and appreciate everything they have done,” she said. “At the same time, we feel strongly that the time is right for this move to 710 ESPN.”
Kobe Bryant leads the Western Conference with more than 719,000 votes in early All-Star balloting results announced Thursday by the NBA.
Bynum is fourth among West centers with almost 156,000 votes, and Pau Gasol is fifth among West forwards with more than 260,000 votes.
Orlando center Dwight Howard leads all players with almost 776,000 votes.
The All-Star game is Feb. 15 in Phoenix.