Lakers’ Andrew Bynum to start again Friday night
Andrew Bynum will start again Friday night after his return to the starting lineup helped the Lakers end a losing streak at three games and after Bynum reported no ill effects in his surgically repaired right knee, Coach Phil Jackson said Thursday.
Bynum scored 18 points in 30 minutes of play in the Lakers’ 103-88 win over the Hornets in New Orleans on Wednesday night, the most playing time the center has had since returning Dec. 14 from his knee problems.
His first start of the season also sent Lamar Odom back to the bench, at least when the game opened, but Odom nonetheless scored a team-high 24 points in 30 minutes of playing time as well.
The knee “was fine,” Bynum said after the Lakers flew home and practiced Thursday in advance of Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center. Bynum, 23, said he was “still a little bit limited as far as explosiveness; other than that I feel pretty good.”
Jackson shuffled his starting lineup after the Lakers’ third consecutive loss Tuesday, against the Spurs in San Antonio.
“Fortunately, we came through [the change] with flying colors, but I thought it would be much more clumsy than it happened to be,” he said. “We know that it’s going to take a little bit of time before we’re a full-fledged team that we think represents the championship teams that we’ve had.”
He also praised Odom’s response to the change, saying Odom, 31, “came out yesterday aggressive and it showed.”
Odom, who’s had what his teammates consider an All-Star season so far with an average of 15.8 points per game, said he was comfortable with the adjustment.
“It’s good for the team,” he said. “It was expected because that’s [Bynum’s] spot, that’s his role on the team. So it wasn’t like there was competition for a spot. That’s the way it is, and that’s what I expected as soon as he got back to full strength.”
The Lakers’ three-game skid also prompted Jackson to call a team meeting before Wednesday’s game.
“After being embarrassed by San Antonio like that, we had a long meeting, a long talk,” Bynum said. A key topic was how the Lakers could be more “defensively mindful” with an eye toward being “able to stop a team consecutively three, four times” from scoring, he said.
“That’s what’s going to get your offense going, regardless of whether or not you’re missing shots,” he said.
Forward Pau Gasol said the meeting helped because “when you lose three games the way we lost them, it’s not a fluke; it’s not just an accident one night. It’s something that is continuously happening. We have to understand how we can change this.”
After the Lakers-76ers game ends shortly before New Year’s Day, Gasol — a native of Barcelona, Spain — said he probably would join friends in the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes as midnight strikes. “It brings you luck,” he said.
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