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Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum make progress in practice

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A few times his teammates played underneath him in the post, Lakers center Andrew Bynum stared down on the ground. Nothing happened on the court that prompted him to react that way. But with Bynum playing in his first full practice since straining his left Achilles' tendon March 19 against Minnesota, he noticed some of his inhibitions kicking in

"That was natural," Bynum said with the Lakers gearing up for their first-round matchup beginning Sunday against Oklahoma City. "I'll have to get through that."

That was really only the setback for Bynum's first session. He reported no pain. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson says he didn't restrict Bynum from any part of practice other than allowing him a five-minute break to rest. And teammates were generally impressed with his first time out.

That also applies to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who practiced for the first time since sitting out the last two regular season games. He described Friday as a "good practice," says he was satisfied with his conditioning level and Jackson observed Bryant had a "lot livelier legs." Bryant still plans on wearing the splint that helps protect his fractured right index finger. And he believes the extra time off helped his assorted injuries considerably, ranging from his finger, his sprained left ankle and his sore right knee.

"My legs feel better," Bryant said. "The ankle thing was still kind of lingering a bit. That feels a lot better. Rest never hurts. Never hurts."

Nonetheless, not all is well on the injury front. Reserve center D.J. Mbenga is believed to have suffered a concussion after getting elbowed during practice, said a team spokesperson, and he visited a neurologist afterwards. It was believed Bynum was involved in that play, but he vehemently denied it. And as far as Bryant and Bynum go, this is just step one of getting phased back into the lineup even though they serve as two welcome additions.

Case in point, Jackson noted Bryant's shot dipped toward the tail end of practice. Bynum added he'll have a better idea how he feels beginning tomorrow, which is when he expects the after effects of practice to fully kick into place. Still, Bryant's and Bynum's return serves as a positive sign as the Lakers begin preparing for the postseason.

"I’d say it’s Andrew being out there," Jackson said when asked what most pleased him about the team's practice. "We really stayed in touch with what we have to do against the Thunder about defending them and how to get through screens and handle things that we have to handle defensively. That was our priority today."

What transpired from Friday's practice exceeded Bynum's expectations. Yet, even though his prediction that he'd feel pain never came to fruition, Bynum provided a very pragmatic picture. He stressed he's taking the proper steps to ensure his injury doesn't "revert," as he called it, by icing the Achilles' and continuing his therapy. Although he didn't specify to what degree, Bynum doesn't expect heavy minutes right away and predicted a drop off from the performances he posted before his injury. That entailed a month-long average of 15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks on 56.8% shooting. In addition, Bynum shared that Jackson stressed for the post-players, including Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom to become better facilitators, meaning there will be yet another wrinkle for Bynum to master beyond improving his conditioning and timing.

Fortunately for Bynum's case, he can lean on Gasol in the time being. Gasol has peaked this past month, posting season-best averages of 24.3 points and 12.6 rebounds in April. Still, with Oklahoma City possessing a speedy and youthful backcourt, the Lakers' competitive advantage entails their post players. Case in point, Bynum averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and at least 60% against the Thunder this season. That means Bynum's transition period better be a quick one. 

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers' Kobe Bryant puts up a shot on Sunday in Los Angeles. Credit: Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press.

 
Comments () | Archives (20)

The comments to this entry are closed.

MM - question - do you update previous threads to see if anyone added new comments? Just curious, cuz a couple of times I haven't seen a few of mine come through... and they were EXTREMELY good too...

Also - I do second Edwin's description of the blog becoming a run-away train, with all of us trying to jump on board. You're doing a great job - I'm just saying...


IS IT SUNDAY YET?????????????????????

Justa - Any comment that gets posted immediately goes to the system and I can approve or disapprove them. All of your comments have been accepted so if there are some you haven't seen, there might be something wrong with your Internet connection or it could be something on our end. I'll let TP know nonetheless.

MM

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO - not TP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Justa - He's the one who removed the ads, remember? If there's an issue with some of your comments not getting posted, he can help out with that.

MM

T "add B gone" P - I love that guy!


MM - seriously - whatever he can find out - thanks!

justa - you should start an I Love TP bandwagon. I bet it would catch on

MM

Jon K - you know I love you, but you gotta stop bagging on Canada and Canadians. We're a humble, happy people - too good natured to call you out in a more pronounced, "American" way...

Although I must admit, when you're doing it in the context of scourging a troll, it's pretty funny!


GO CANADA!!! Our hockey team can whoop YOUR hockey team's AZZZ!!!!

MM - you're kidding, right??? Ok, ok - he DID get rid of the ads.... BUT I'm not sure that's worthy of an entire bandwagon. I tell you what - if he gets color on the blog for us, THAT would be bandwagon-worthy. Let me know....

MM - by the way - the K-bros used to do live chats on occasion in the middle of a regular day. That would be a new thread a LOT of us could get behind!

We got a hockey team? I thought we just rented Canadians.

:)=)

JR

Justa - Hmm. That sounds like a good idea. What does everyone think of that idea?

MM

Live chats in the middle of the day? Yes. But now the K-Bros are now doing them at 10:30 am when I'm most busy. They used to do them like at 3:30 in the afternoon which is much better. If practices are at 12:30 or 1, late afternoon makes sense, since there is new info to be shared. Who else has thoughts on this?

Rick - I like the chat idea, but I think the middle of the day would actually be poor timing. At that point, I'm trying to get video done and post-practice reports written. Plus to have it after practice is somewhat unpredictable with when we're all done. Let's hear some responses from more just so we can see which time best suits all of us.

MM

Justa, Mark,

I like the idea of non game day chats. Maybe Mark, you could start off with an interesting topic and we can just let it flow.


Mark, about the chats, I work m-f 8-5. I know everyone has different work schedules, so I think it would be best to have them at different times so we can get everyone involved. Maybe mostly in the morning but here and there in the evening too? Anyway I think live chats is a great idea and i'm sure you will make it work.

That was a real low-key Kobe in the video, he looks ready to dominate and sounds well rested. Rest of the guys looked focused and ready too. Should be a fun playoff run!

Haven't been able to follow the Lakers too much these past few days, did catch Phil's 'exchange' with Kevin Durant though. In this case, Phil laid down a perfect web, and caught a Durantula in it - who has made the mistake to respond to Phil's comments and thus took the bait perfectly. This will not only make the refs slightly pause when calling fouls against Durant, they'd never admit to it but it's only human nature, as well as serve to play well in messing with Durant's head. Phil has done it again, the master of head games just got into another players noggin. For those that question the zenmaster and his ways (along with his substitution patterns) this is EXACTLY why he has 10 rings, why he is such a great coach and why he's won as much as he has! That was the best $35k that Phil could have spent!

Great thing that the Lakers are getting Bynum back just in time for the playoffs to start, this will help put the rotations back in order and give more depth to the bench with Lamar going back to the 6th man role he has excelled in the past couple seasons. Kobe seems ready too by his comments, the rest probably served him real well. Tough to lose Sasha, but at least he can't brick shots from the bench, lol.

Watched ESPN's 'The Association - The Los Angeles Lakers' - I highly recommend it. Great stuff, a lot of behind-the-scenes type footage although they probably could have made it into at least a 2-hour special, or even a series of 6 to 8 half hour episodes, there was too much footage and it was compressed far too much. One thing I didn't care for was the painting of Ron Artest in such an dark light, they even played some ominous music when he made a few of his screen appearances. All in all though it was a great 'slice of life' of the past season and it has got me REAL pumped for the playoffs!

GO LAKERS!!!!!

justanothermambafan,

As I've noted, my father is of Canadian birth. My grandmother--God rest her loving soul--was also of Canadian birth, from Central Manitoba. I still have HUGE chunks of my family who live in Western Ontario and they're all good people--odd people, yes, who live off of doughnuts and beer and listen to nothing but the band Rush, but still good people.

I love Canada and it is a lifelong dream to take a cross continent trip across Canada someday.

That much said, there's something just not right about "America's Hat." They sit up there, in the cold, wishing they were Americans who had the guts to actually DEMAND independence instead of politely waiting for the British to give them independence 150 years later while Britain recruited them to die on the battlefield for them in wars of empire. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Canada is great, but they do have a huge inferiority complex which occasionally breeds trolls of a rare breed of jerkitude.

Did you ever see the South Park episode where they go to Canada? That pretty much sums it up. It's a beautiful country with great people where things don't quite make sense and conditions are set for the occasional person with a huge inferiority complex to be a huge jerk.

That's Canada.

By the way, great national athem. My father taught it to me while I was still in elementary school.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Reporting From DEEP Behind Enemy Lines On The Precipice Of What May Be One Of The Best Playoffs Ever}

So, I entered my favorite local watering hole and a key local LeBroniac was there. This particular LeBroniac has been my best source of inside information regarding the Cavs and LeBron and such because:

1. He's intelligent
2. He knows LeBron personally
3. He has court-level season tickets to the Cavs games
4. He's a basketball coach
5. He has a Bill Simmons-esque knowledge of statistics and game history

Our rivalry has grown more pleasant over the years. We have gone from nearly fighting on several occasions (all of which I played the bigger man and downplayed the conflict, rather than killing the guy) to actually engaging in friendly mutually respectful discussions of each other's team and their chances.

Well, my LeBroniac insider agrees with me that the Eastern Conference playoffs will probably be more difficult for the Cavs than it will be for the Lakers, in part because the Magic are so unpredictably good. When they're good, they're great, but is their greatness sustainable?

Regarding the Lakers/Thunder series, my LeBroniac insider stated at one time in our conversation, "They're a bunch of kids. It's the playoffs. They have no idea what they're in for" and "The Thunder has no inside game. If Bynum is healthy, he's going to kill them."

So, I sure hope Bynum is healthy.

If we play inside-out basketball like we're supposed to--meaning the Two-Headed Monster of Bynum and Gasol is our first option--then we should murder the Thunder.

Not that I hate the Thunder. I don't. I just think it's our duty to beat them as a learning lesson for that young team.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Umm...the previous post had Derek Fisher first team All Interview.
He is really bringing his A game to the locker room.
Just think how valuable he will be next year when he only gives interviews as an assistant coach and you don't have to worry about him playing defense or shooting bricks !!!

i think we all need to look forward to next year after the lakers had rebuilt their structure. medina i notice you never approve my blogging what's it with ya man!


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