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Category: Andrew Bynum

Mike Brown admits struggles in handling compacted schedule

As he headed toward the trainer's room Monday, Lakers guard Derek Fisher simply shook his head. 

The Lakers' game tonight against the Phoenix Suns marks the second contest of a five-game stretch this week, leaving them with a late-night flight to Utah for Wednesday's game and Monday and Thursday as the only practice days. A reporter pointed out that next week's schedule of games against Dallas (Jan. 16), at Miami (Jan. 19) and at Orlando (Jan. 20) at least gives them four practice days. But that hardly assuaged Fisher's concerns.

When Coach Mike Brown stepped out toward the Lakers' practice court, Fisher said the following within earshot: "This week, we say we wish we had more practices, but when the practices come next week, we're going to say we need more rest."

Brown, Fisher and a small group of reporters laughed at the thought process, but it epitomizes an approach to this year's compacted schedule that Brown admits he's struggled handling. 

"I've been trying to teach and learn and all that, while not trying to do too much," he said. "But I have done that at times."

That's included three-hour practices. A few that were open to reporters included hourlong shooting sessions. After training camp started Dec. 9, the Lakers didn't have a single day off until Dec. 28, after playing three games on consecutive nights.

Brown initially wanted an even more intense schedule, but scrapped some of those plans. Instead of having six two-a-day sessions during training camp, the Lakers had three. Brown reduced the playbook to a third of its original size, and he has tried to limit recent morning shootarounds to no longer than 90 minutes. 

"We knew it was going to be a challenge," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. We knew we would face adversity first. We knew all that coming in."

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Five ways to decrease the Lakers' turnovers

The Lakers are lucky they beat the Memphis Grizzlies.

If they commit 27 turnovers, which they did in their 90-82 win Sunday against Memphis, against any other team, the Lakers will most likely lose. They held on only because the Grizzlies shot horribly from the field, lacked frontline depth without Zach Randolph and the Lakers surprisingly featured a balanced offense. That won't happen every game. 

"That's an area I didn't think we'd have a problem with," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. 

But they do. The Lakers average 16.7 turnovers, third most in the NBA, and they've provided few signs that will change. But here are a few suggestions on where to start. 

1. Know offense better. The Lakers (6-4), like all NBA teams, have experienced challenges facing a compacted 66-game schedule. That includes striking a balance between practice time and rest, and processing as many new concepts as possible without falling into information overload. Brown conceded he hasn't done well in that department and hasn't been able to plan long-term.

But the Lakers' unfamiliarity with the offense will quickly become nothing more than an excuse.  For now, the Lakers clearly show discomfort on where exactly to cut and pass on offense. 

"We have a little ways to go before it's just instinct and you can make things happen," Lakers guard Steve Blake said. "We're in that in between phase between knowing it and reacting on instinct, and sometimes we're just thinking too much."

2. Don't make home-run plays. That's the buzzword Brown and players use for fancy passes. There's been plenty of them. Blake and Derek Fisher have thrown way too many lobs to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in hopes to spark the offense. A simply entry pass will do. 

3. Give Kobe Bryant relief from ball-handling duties. Bryant's the main offender in turnovers, averaging 4.1, which points to problems with the torn ligament in his right wrist. That means the Lakers should keep his ball-handling in isolation sets to a minimum. 

4. Andrew Bynum must learn soon how to play out of double teams. Bynum remains second on the team in turnovers, averaging 3.33. That number will go up the longer Bynum struggles passing out of double teams. Brown and Gasol suggested, however, this process will take time. 

5. Take more shots. Of course, crisp ball movement and sharp cutting will create quality shots. But for the sake of minimizing losses, the Lakers should feel less guilty taking a bad shot than committing the turnover. It's more than likely either Gasol or Bynum can grab the offensive putback. 


Kobe Bryant practices; Josh McRoberts remains sidelined

Lakers' balanced effort against Memphis looked ugly

Five things to take away from Lakers' 90-82 victory over Memphis

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Kwame Brown inspired more than just Andrew Bynum

Kwame Brown

Every time Andrew Bynum throws down a lob, blocks a shot or bullies a defender in the lane, just remember that none of this might have been possible without one significant former teammate.

Kwame Brown. 

"I taught him everything he knows," Brown recently told The Times' Mike Bresnahan. "I'm one of the better defenders in the league, and we played against each other every day in practice. I told him if you can score against me, you can score on anyone."

Now, it's tempting for Laker fans to cue the laugh track. They probably just remember all the muffed passes and dunks he provided with the Lakers for 2½ seasons before he was sent to Memphis as part of the Pau Gasol trade in February 2008. But perhaps Brown does deserve some credit. After all, he's proved instrumental for the team beyond just playing a role in Bynum's development. Consider these examples:

1. Kobe Bryant — Forget about his amazing talent and drive. Bryant averaged a career-high 35.4 points in the 2005-06 campaign because of Brown's presence. Don't let the box score fool you. Bryant's career-high 81 points Jan. 22, 2006 against Toronto may look impressive, but don't overlook the three points Brown provided on one of five shooting. Toronto simply picked its poison by opting to limit Brown in the post rather than trying to stop Bryant from dropping bucket after bucket.

Don't underestimate Brown's connection with Michael Jordan, either. Jordan remained fascinated with Brown's so-called potential and selected him No. 1 in the 2001 NBA draft. It's likely that Jordan passed down some of his basketball wisdom to Brown, who in turn shared it with Bryant. Even if Brown could never catch any of Bryant's direct passes, it certainly forced the Black Mamba to sharpen his facilitating skills.

2. Pau Gasol — Had Brown not been such a valuable trade chip to the Grizzlies, there's no way El Spaniard would have wound up in Los Angeles. So it's only fair that Gasol shares at least one of his titles with Brown. After all, it would've been inevitable that Brown would've collected a Larry O'Brien trophy had he remained with the Lakers, anyway. Gasol should also thank Brown for prompting his teammates to elevate their play after his departure. With such a void left on the Lakers' frontline, they needed to support Gasol any way they could. 

3.  Mitch Kupchak — His reputation as a general manager remained flimsy and at times even earned Bryant's scorn. But once Kupchak traded Brown, everything subsided. Now, Kupchak has been credited with putting together the pieces that ensured three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and back-to-back titles. To show his gratitude, Kupchak should offer Brown a front-office position.


Kwame Brown takes partial credit for Andrew Bynum's success

Kobe Bryant senses change in pecking order for Gasol, Bynum

Lakers should still covet Dwight Howard over Andrew Bynum

— Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Andrew Bynum, right, says he and Golden State's Kwame Brown used to talk about cars and go bowling when both were members of the Lakers. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press; Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Kwame Brown takes partial credit for Andrew Bynum's success


--The Times' Mike Bresnahan talks to former Lakers Kwame Brown, who took partial credit for Andrew Bynum's recent success.  "I taught him everything he knows," Brown said. "I'm one of the better defenders in the league and we played against each other every day in practice. I told him if you can score against me, you can score on anyone." Cue the laugh track.

--The Times' Bill Plaschke explains why the Lakers have embraced Josh McRoberts' blue-collar mentality.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding notes Kobe Bryant keeps practicing despite the torn ligament in his right wrist.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin previews the Pau Gasol-Marc Gasol matchup.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford explains why Lakers Coach Mike Brown remains stumped with how the NBA season has progressed thus far.'s Mike Trudell talks with Lakers forward Matt Barnes about rehabbing from his surgically repaired right knee.

--Silver Screen and Roll's wondahbap credits Bryant as the Lakers' player of the week.

Tweet of the Day: "Kobe may be the no. 1 option, but Bynum's the no. 1 priority with the Lakers these days. I wrote that last summer+ownership got angry." -- lazenby (Lakers author Roland Lazenby)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "Realistically there is always going to be a "pecking order" even if its never spoken of...ideally there shouldn't be, but there is....the best players on the team are always going to have priority over those who aren't that good....especially in it fair? Probably not, but life isn't fair...." -- Anthony Taylor

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Andrew Bynum, right, says he and Golden State's Kwame Brown used to talk about cars and go bowling when both were members of the Lakers. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press; Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant senses change in pecking order for Gasol, Bynum

Moments after attacking the basket, Kobe Bryant drew a double team and saw something out of the corner of his eye.

Pau Gasol just cut toward the right elbow and found himself wide open. The 18,997 at Staples Center may have seen this sequence countless times, but the execution still proved just as captivating. Bryant kicked the ball out and toward the elbow. Gasol caught it. He squared up. Gasol then sank the mid-range jumper.

That play in the Lakers' 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors provided a Kodak moment for multiple reasons.

It gave the Lakers a 91-82 lead with 2:28 left and secured what Lakers Coach Mike Brown described as an "ugly" win. Bryant and Gasol hugged each other at mid-court, leading the Lakers forward later to say, "It's good to have that connection with Kobe." More importantly, the play at least brought to Bryant's mind how Gasol has to fit in with the offense when center Andrew Bynum has literally taken away his touches since returning to the lineup for the last four games. 

"Pau has to shoot it," Bryant said. "He's not a scorer by nature. That's been the biggest thing with Andrew's development. Andrew is thirsty to score. That takes a lot of pressure off of Pau. But when Pau has shots, he has to shoot them."

In other words, Bryant just redefined the pecking order only two years after famously saying, "I eat first, and Pau eats second." But with Bynum clearly topping Gasol in points (22.3, 17.5)  and rebounds (15.8, 7.75) in the first four games since returning from his suspension, it's hard not to wonder if Bryant sees that pecking order evolving.

"It seems like it's changing a little bit," Bryant conceded. "Andrew is thirsty to score. He can score. He has more of a scorer's mentality so we'll take advantage of that."

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Kobe Bryant maintains high scoring rate

Among the highlights of my breakdown on the Lakers' 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors:

  • The Lakers played a horrific first half played out like another version of the Hangover. They shot 36% from the field, committed 12 turnovers and appeared fatigued from a back-to-back the previous night at Portland. Fortunately for the Lakers, the energy picked up in the third quarter and sparked more offense. 
  • We've seen Kobe Bryant score a lot of points despite the heavy injuries. But it still proves an amazing sight to see. His 39 points on 13 of 28 shooting punctuated his third consecutive game he scored at least 30. In this ongoing debate regarding his shots, it always matters where Bryant takes them. Against Golden State, they mostly came from baseline jumpers and from the mid-to-high post, both areas that play to Bryant's strength. In the locker room, Bryant wore what looked like a giant oven mitt to protect his right wrist. 
  • The pecking order between Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have changed. Bryant told me after the game he considers Bynum as the No. 2 option, but that he's going to have to fight through double teams and that Gasol has to maintain aggressiveness. Bynum's nine points on three of nine shooting illustrates that struggle, but he's still giving a good effort with 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, Gasol establishing a good fine line between remaining fine with Bynum's quest for scoring, while ensuring he still capitalizes on his mid-range jumpers.        
  • Matt Barnes played his best game as a Laker, scoring 16 points on seven of nine shooting. He also defended Monta Ellis as well as the circumstances allowed, allowing 18 points on eight of 20 shooting. Barnes is a fiery player and overplays his aggressiveness at times. But he remained professional throughout Devin Ebanks' starts and also lended support. It's good he maintained that perspective because it remains clear Barnes is keeping this spot. Kudos for Metta World Peace for remaining diplomatic about playing only 10 minutes partly because of Barnes' strong play.                                                                                                                                 


Five things to take away from Lakers' 97-90 win over Golden State

Mike Brown downplays Kobe Bryant's wrist injections

Lakers vs. Warriors: Live updates from the game

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Lakers should still covet Dwight Howard over Andrew Bynum

Dwight Howard

Each dunk, rebound and nifty post move that Andrew Bynum makes softens the Lakers' collective anxiety over how well they will perform this season.

But each sequence apparently has blinded some Laker fans to believe the current roster remains fine. According to a poll on Lakers Nation, 56.8% of fans argue the Lakers are better off keeping Andrew Bynum than shipping him off for a deal involving Dwight Howard. So much for that spirited defense I made last season that Laker fans are more intelligent than the general public believes.

OK, I'm just kidding. You guys are great. But it boggles my mind that Bynum's three games, in which he's averaged 22.7 points on 62.2% shooting and 17 rebounds suddenly changes everything, at least among the majority fans who voted in that poll. Bynum's strong start may have surprised even his most ardent supporters and assuaged the Lakers' feeling that they need to make a major move in order to contend for a title. But that doesn't mean the Lakers still shouldn't pursue Howard at Bynum's expense.

Comparing Bynum's stat line to Howard's (19.1 points) on 58.9% shooting and 16 rebounds remains hogwash. Howard remains a more physical defender, more capable of playing through double teams and more importantly will remain healthy. Bynum says he feels 100% fully healed and he's devoted more time to rehab his knee, but he remains adamant that he will wear a brace on his right knee for the rest of his career.

"It's always going to be in the back of my mind," Bynum said. 

And that's one of the many reasons why Bynum's impressive play should simply serve as a complementary role. Should Bryant's wrist worsen and, heaven forbid, force him to sit out games, Bynum wouldn't thrive as much on the double teams defenses would throw at him. Howard practically deals with that all the time on Orlando. Bynum doesn't have the same appeal as Howard to draw other superstars to the Lakers. Howard's easygoing personality and desire for a championship make the Lakers' Hollywood aura a perfect fit. And measuring the two side by side, Howard's superior defense bodes much stronger into Mike Brown's system than Bynum's will, even if his improved conditioning and 7-foot frame still brings value.

The only thing that should change regarding Bynum's strong start involves the way the Lakers negotiate for Howard. Bynum's market value increases. This lessens the chance Orlando remains adamant that the Lakers have to deal both Bynum and Pau Gasol to land Dwight Howard. And while these talks continue, the Lakers can still feel comfortable they have a flourishing frontcourt with Odom's absence. 

But acquiring Howard in a deal involving Bynum, the team's $8.9 million trade exception and a handful of role players still proves to be the better option. Even if sentiment among Laker fans suggest otherwise. 


Andrew Bynum showing more aggressiveness

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard would mesh well together

Who would you be willing to give up to get Dwight Howard?

Lakers shouldn't pin Andrew Bynum as their franchise player

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Orlando center Dwight Howard kicks the ball as he shoves away Washington Wizards' Rashard Lewis, No. 9, and Kevin Seraphin at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday. Credit: Stephen M. Dowell / MCT.

Patrick Ewing casts All-Star vote for Andrew Bynum

Andrew BynumIn another sign of the NBA's ridiculousness, the league formally announced Wednesday the start of voting for the All-Star game.

Even if Andrew Bynum has played in only three games so far, that's enough to impress Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. As the Orlando Magic's assistant coach, Ewing put Bynum on his first ballot during the NBA All-Star tip-off conference in Florida. You might take that as a sign that the Magic would agree to ship Dwight Howard to the Lakers for a deal involving Bynum. Or just take it at face value: Bynum's averages of 22.7 points and 17 rebounds lead all Western Conference centers. 

Bynum has touted his hope to become an All-Star in recent seasons. After the Lakers' 108-99 victory Tuesday over the Houston Rockets, however, Bynum said that goal no longer consumes him.

"For me, I'm not worried about that," Bynum said of being included in All-Star weekend Feb. 23-26 at Orlando's Amway Center. "I just want to play well. If I go out and play well, things will work themselves out. Sometimes you get sidetracked thinking about things like that. I just go out and play hard."

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace also appeared on the Western Conference ballot.


Andrew Bynum has All-Star potential

Andrew Bynum's full potential untapped

Five things to take away from Lakers' victory over Houston

-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum stretches to block a shot by Rockets forward Chase Budinger in the fourth quarter Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times 

Five things to take away from Lakers' 108-99 victory over Houston Rockets

Kobe Bryant

1. Kobe Bryant's shooting fluctuated.  The Lakers' 108-99 victory Tuesday over the Houston Rockets featured Bryant peaking and struggling with his shot. Bryant made his first three attempts, including one that he threw off the backboard with his left hand and rebounded with a putback on his right. Then he finished the first half with a five-for-14 mark. Then Bryant rebounded in the second half and scored 37 points on 14-of-29 shooting overall.

Bryant's shot chart was much better than in the Lakers' loss Sunday to Denver. That's because many of his shots were more mid-range and baseline jumpers than ones from long distance. Bryant maintains a fine line between making adjustments on his shot and utilizing the bigs inside. Meanwhile, the Lakers worked better with Bryant in finding him looks off the ball and in the post. 

2. Andrew Bynum remains efficient, and received more looks in the second half. Bynum appeared so frustrated with not receiving enough looks that Bynum ripped off his tucked jersey as he entered the locker room at halftime. Jason Kapono didn't see a wide-open Bynum under the basket at the end of the half.

 Bynum's stat line of 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting and 22 rebounds marks the first time in his six-year career he recorded a 20-20 game. While there were a few hiccups in a few post moves and missed putbacks, Bynum remained mostly effective. Only problem: The Lakers didn't utilize him enough despite the Rockets' insistence on playing small ball in the first half. The Lakers reached a better balance in the second half, thanks to Bryant's improved shooting.

3. Houston's zone defense threw Lakers off. Part of the reason the Lakers avoided passing the ball inside enough pointed to their tentativeness in responding the Rockets' zone in the second quarter. The easy answer involves hoisting more outside shots, but that's usually what teams that run zone want their opponents to do.

4. Pau Gasol has adjusted his game since Bynum's return. Gasol always featured a solid mid-range jumper. But ever since Bynum's return in the past three games, Gasol's offense has largely centered around knocking down that shot than scoring off the post. He scored 14 points on seven-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds against the Rockets. It's a good sign Bynum and Gasol can coexist on the floor and that Gasol appears willing to take a back seat to Bynum. 

5. The Peace Corps looked solid. Steve Blake maintained his shooting confidence with an 11-point effort on four-for-eight shooting. Metta World Peace suddenly showed facilitating skills. And Troy Murphy provided decent energy for five points on two-of-two shooting and four rebounds. 


Lakers vs. Rockets: Live game updates

Josh McRoberts to miss Tuesday's game against Houston

Kobe Bryant unapologetic about shot selection in loss to Denver

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant spins away from Rockets guard Kevin Martin before elevating for a shot in the fourth quarter Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / January 3, 2012. 

Andrew Bynum showing more aggressiveness

Even an hour removed from a prolonged practice on Monday, Lakers center Andrew Bynum talked with reporters while lugging around a medicine ball.

Consider it one of many examples of Bynum remaining focused on his craft. Even before practice is scheduled to start, Bynum often is already at the facility working on post moves on his own to improve his balance and base. In July and August, he worked out with boxing trainer Freddie Roach to improve his hand-eye coordination and footwork. And then once the NBA lockout formally ended, Bynum shipped off to Atlanta to reengage in a yearly off-season routine with trainer Sean Zarzana. There, he developed quicker post moves, improved his back-to-the basket and deeper post positioning and learned how to pass better out of the post before reposting.

Bynum's average of 23.5 points on 66.7% shooting and 14.5 rebounds in 30 minutes through his first two games provides too small of a sample size to make sweeping conclusions. But it's clearly showing how Bynum's off-season work has translated into becoming a more aggressive and efficient center. 

"I'm attacking every game with a different mind-set," Bynum said.

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