Lakers’ Andrew Bynum has another nice night

Reporting from Phoenix

Quietly yet efficiently, Andrew Bynum has put together a string of games worth examining in March.

The Lakers’ 22-year-old center, a study in inconsistency at times this season, has been a source of scoring in recent games, continuing his trend with 18 points on eight-for-12 shooting Friday in the Lakers’ 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s important for him to be aggressive,” Kobe Bryant said. “A lot of times, he’ll take a step back to Pau [Gasol] but he has to be aggressive, he has to continue to go out there and assert himself and look for those post-up opportunities.”

Said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: “I thought he was strong in some situations where he hasn’t been as strong. The biggest thing about him is just getting a good base on his shots.”

Bynum had 22 points on identical eight-for-12 shooting last Tuesday against Toronto.

He had only five points Sunday against Orlando, a clunker that would bring his average this month down to 14.6 points a game, but he might have learned something in that game while going up against Magic center Dwight Howard.

Bynum said his recent efficiency could be attributed to “just really keeping a base and getting down low and doing kind of like Dwight does — kind of hit the guy and push him back and then try to post up.”

Bynum’s effort against the Suns, which also included nine rebounds, was that much more notable with the knowledge that he needed treatment leading up to the game after banging knees with DJ Mbenga at Thursday’s practice.

“I like what he’s done defensively too,” Jackson said. “I thought he’s played pretty good defense.”

Cold hand

Jordan Farmar had a good start to this month, averaging 12.7 points in games against Indiana, Miami and Charlotte, but his shooting has been askew the last three games as a sore hand has hindered him.

Friday marked the second time in three games that Farmar was scoreless, missing both his shots in only three minutes. He bent over in the first quarter after getting smacked on his hand.

“That’s a big effect for a shooter, gripping the ball and getting the right spin on it and putting it in your hand right,” Jackson said.

Still there

The Suns were supposed to be done after numerous rumors had them trading All-Star center-forward Amare Stoudemire for pennies on the dollar before last month’s trade deadline, but they are on track to make the playoffs.

“So much goes into something like that, with one of these All-Star players, you have to do it with great trepidation,” Jackson said. “What can you possibly get that can replace this player at the level that they’re looking to replace him with?

“I think it’s spurred Amare. I think it’s kind of made his game even more exciting and brisk in the way he plays.”

Stoudemire had 29 points and 16 rebounds against the Lakers.