Bynum feeling good
The Lakers might not seem as if they miss Andrew Bynum, losing only one game since his knee injury, but they’ll obviously welcome him back whenever he returns.
He has started riding a stationary bike, using an elliptical machine and doing partial lunges and squats with his lower legs.
He continues to lift weights to maintain his upper-body strength but has not yet started running.
All indications are that he will return between March 30 and April 27, within the original eight-to-12 week forecast released by the team after Bynum suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
“It feels fine, very little pain,” Bynum said Thursday. “The swelling’s all the way down. I’m optimistic. I just hope it keeps going the way it’s going now.”
Bynum never returned to the court last season after injuring his other knee in mid-January, though he said circumstances were different this time.
“This one’s a lot easier than last year’s,” he said.
The Lakers are 12-1 since Bynum went down, including the Jan. 31 game in which he was injured, a victory over Memphis.
He wasn’t sure when he would return.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Right now, all I know is it feels good to me and I think I’ll be able to at least come back and contribute.
“It’s cool because when I come back in, they’ll all be jelling together and I’ll just have to work my way back.”
With the way Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol have been playing down low, Bynum is almost a certainty to come off the bench when he returns.
Bynum is averaging 14 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots in 29.1 minutes a game.
The other view
The Lakers’ record without Bynum has been noticed around the league.
Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl even wondered how much the Lakers really miss him.
“Don’t you have to make the statement that maybe they’re better without Bynum?” he asked reporters in Denver on Thursday. “Why do we always say Bynum? How many games has he played for this team? I like Bynum. I think he’s a great player. But sometimes you can have too much talent out there and it can kind of be confusing.”
Second unit scolded
Coach Phil Jackson wasn’t thrilled with what he considered a me-first attitude from the Lakers’ second unit.
“I haven’t been happy with our younger guys out there,” he said before Thursday’s game against Phoenix. “I don’t think they’re really feeding the system the way they have got to feed the system for everybody to stay happy. We really have to get that group stabilized.”
Jackson said he might give Luke Walton more time with that unit to improve ball movement.
“They’re young and they look for their own game first rather than how to do it together,” Jackson said. “They don’t trust each other together yet, and that’s a key they’re still missing.”
Since Odom’s promotion to the starters, the second unit has consisted of Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Trevor Ariza and Josh Powell.
Jackson typically keeps Odom or Gasol on the court with the backups as well.