Lakers Today: 12/02/07

The spotlight will fall squarely on Andrew Bynum tonight as Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic roll into STAPLES Center. The first overall pick from the 2004 draft has blossomed into one of the most dominate big men in the league in just his 4th season–much the same way the Lakers hope Bynum will continue to progress.

Bynum is second in the league in dunks this season with 34. Howard leads the league with 81. That’s quite a disparity.

“He’s a beast now, pretty much like the new Shaq,” Bynum said of Howard. “If he gets anything by that restricted area [near the basket], you’re in trouble.”

Bynum and Howard are friends off the court (there was talk last summer of Drew heading back east to work with Howard), but tonight’s matchup should tell us a lot about where Bynum is in his development process.

Lakers rookie guard Javaris Crittenton is also very familiar with Howard. The two were teammates at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and won a state title together.

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Bynum will be primarily responsible for Howard tonight. Kwame Brown is still on the shelf with ankle and knee injuries and Chris Mihm still trying to find his way after missing the majority of two seasons.

Mihm has found the recovery process to be as lengthy as advertised.

“I’d like it to feel 100 percent and not be something I have to worry about on a daily basis, but it’s not that way right now,” Mihm said.

“Whenever I talk to my doctors and my rehab people, they say I’m right on schedule. It’s a process.”

It’s simply taking longer than Mihm would like.

When you watch the games you can see Mihm getting to the right spots and making the smart plays, but his athleticism just isn’t there yet. It’s been tough for him to get the same kind of lift he had before his injury and his game hasn’t adjusted to it.

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Orlando went out and spent a lot of money on Rashard Lewis this summer. So far Lewis has been okay, but not max-deal good.

‘There will be some nights when I’m going to struggle, some nights when Turk [Hedo Turkoglu] is going to struggle and some nights when Dwight [Howard] is going to struggle,’ Lewis said. ‘The great players come out of their slump and continue to play regardless of what people are saying. I’m not worried about it at all.

‘It’s happened to me before. And I’ve gotten out of it.’

And how do you do that?

Lewis smiled and shrugged.

‘Keep shooting. Don’t think about it. Don’t hesitate. Because if you stop shooting the ball, then you really put yourself in a slump.’