With L.A.’s health being among the few malleable things from practice-to-practice in a six-day span without games, Phil Jackson was asked by a reporter after Sunday’s session how his team was coming along from that standpoint.
“We’re good,” he said. “We’re as good as can be.”
Most notably, Jackson’s statement didn’t exclude Andrew Bynum, who did not participate on Sunday but suffered no setbacks from his run in Saturday’s practice.
“I think he came through yesterday’s practice quite well,” Jackson said. “I thought he played well. We’re hopeful that he’s going to be at that level tomorrow.”
That was good news for the Lakers, as Bynum had told reporters that his knee was “getting a little worse,” but that it would not keep him from playing throughout the remainder of L.A.’s postseason.
In the regular season, the 22-year-old center found considerable success against Phoenix, averaging 17.8 points and 9.8 rebounds on 61% shooting in roughly 32 minutes per game.
The small tear in the lateral meniscus of Bynum’s right knee and more playing time for Lamar Odom against Utah’s smallish front line limited the seven-footer to 24.8 minutes per contest in Round 2 (in which he averaged 7.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.75 blocks), but Jackson expects that ‘Drew will be available for almost-regular duty.
“If the times and the minutes are parsed out in a way that doesn’t put any real heavy time on him, like 12, 14 minutes in a row, he can play (30 minutes),” said the head coach.
The Suns have an injured center of their own in second-year man Robin Lopez, who has not played in a game since hurting his back on March 26, but is expected to start on Monday night. Channing Frye, however, is expected to get the majority of the “center” minutes, though he spends much of his time on the perimeter offensively.