Lakers vs. Clippers Pre-Game

Before tonight’s game against the crosstown rival Clippers, Coach Jackson was asked to ponder the current Western Conference playoff race, particularly in regards to teams like Dallas and Phoenix who have slid in the standings since making impact trades. Jackson said that while it’s not time to scoreboard watch yet, he does think it’s important for the Lakers to pay close attention to the two to three teams immediately on their schedule, noting that “We have a couple of games here before we head out on a very tough road trip.”

Jackson also discussed the potential impact of Andrew Bynum once he hopefully returns from injury later this season. Jackson said that any talk of the center’s return is still premature, revealing that Bynum is at least a month away from returning to the court. According to Jackson, Andrew will come off the bench when he does return, with his eventual return to the starting lineup contingent on his conditioning and adjustments to the team’s recent roster changes. In the likely event that Bynum is forced to adapt on the fly as the playoffs near, Jackson said that his re-acclimation to the team “will have to be handled just the right way.”

While #17′s injury status is still somewhat up in the air, the Lakers coach said that Chris Mihm may end up beating both Bynum and injured forward Trevor Ariza back to the court. “We’re very optimistic with Chris,” said Jackson. “We feel like this last procedure is really working out well.”