Walton says break helped him to heal

Times Staff Writer

Show Luke Walton a chart of the human body and he’ll point out what was hurting.

His ankle, his hip, his lower back.

And his knees too, simply because he was favoring all the other injuries.

His body was malfunctioning, one part at a time, costing him his confidence and his minutes.

“I thought he was rushing things, just putting his head down a lot of times . . . “ Coach Phil Jackson said.

Then came the All-Star break. Walton no longer feels broken.

“I went to San Diego and did nothing but see my physical therapist down there for three straight days,” Walton said. “Everything’s starting to feel a lot better. It’s all connected and it was all hurting.”


The Lakers will need him to be healthy, particularly in the short run.

Walton has returned to the starting lineup in place of Vladimir Radmanovic, who is sidelined because of a strained right calf muscle.

Walton had gone 18 consecutive games without scoring in double figures before breaking through with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists Sunday against Seattle, his first game back in the starting lineup.

He had two points in 21 minutes Tuesday as a starter against Portland.

Walton would start only as long as Radmanovic was out, Jackson said.

“Right now, I don’t think Luke should be playing 30 minutes or more in a ballgame physically,” he said. “He’s a valuable player, but there’s some players that 30-plus minutes a game are too many for them to play.”

Radmanovic is listed as day-to-day.

“Given his history, he hasn’t returned quickly from injuries, but we hope that he’s back within five games,” Jackson said.

The news of Yao Ming’s season-ending foot surgery probably meant Houston was done in the Western Conference race.

Not necessarily, Jackson said.

“They played well with [Dikembe] Mutombo in there last year. I don’t know if he can play those kind of minutes this year, but he’s a good, if not great, defensive center still,” he said. “And [Tracy] McGrady’s capable of carrying the team.”


The Rockets (37-20) won their 13th consecutive game with a 94-69 victory Tuesday over Washington.

How young are the Lakers now?

One of the ever-changing stats of the season has been their average age.

They were the second youngest team in the league after acquiring Trevor Ariza for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans in November.

They became the eighth youngest team in the league after signing DJ Mbenga and acquiring Pau Gasol. The average age of their players is about 26.3 years old.