Andrew Bynum frustrated on sideline
Bynum could only watch his teammates be outrebounded 45-35 and consequently outscored 21-10 in second-chance points, making their 84-80 victory a difficult one to secure.
While Bynum tweeted his support Sunday night, calling Lamar Odom the Sixth Man of the Year and Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant the best closers in the game, he had nothing to say to reporters after Monday's practice. He ducked into the trainer's room as the media was let into the practice court, vowing to speak Wednesday after his suspension is finished.
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Bynum's team was left to speak for their 23-year-old center.
"He's fine," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. "He knows it's to his advantage at some level to have an opportunity to work on his leg strength and get some things done. ... I think in the long run it might help him."
Bynum is still rounding into shape after missing the first 24 games of the season following offseason surgery on his right knee. He is trying to shed 15 pounds to bring his weight down from 290 to 275 to alleviate some of the pressure on his knee, but it's been tricky because Bynum's knee has some fluid buildup that causes him to take anti-inflammatory medicine and ice the knee to combat, meaning that losing weight by hitting the treadmill is out of the question, because that would only irritate the knee more.
But Bynum has become accustomed to playing through nagging injuries over the last several seasons. It's the prospect of interrupting his play that had been so strong since the All-Star break that has the six-year veteran bothered.
"Emotionally, it's hard to take," Jackson said. "He has to be away from the team. Game time he can't be in the arena, so that's difficult, especially watching a game like [the Portland game] ... He's frustrated."
As frustrated as Bynum's been, Pau Gasol said if he ever had to serve a suspension that would carry with it the $307,000-plus penalty that Bynum's does (two game's pay), he'd be worse.
"He's been chilling," Gasol said. "His mood is good. I know it hurts him not to be able to play, but he's doing pretty well. I would be pretty upset if I got suspended and I had to pay that kind of amount of money, but for the most part he's handling it pretty well."
Jackson joked that Bynum's absence has actually affected Gasol's mood quite a bit, calling the four-time All-Star "depressed" about having to play 45 minutes to fill Bynum's void Sunday.
"He just mentioned it to me as I was walking out here and I asked him, 'Why do you do that?' He said, 'It's just fun,'" said Gasol, noting that his coach made him aware of the latest barb he threw the Spaniard's way before the media could ambush him with it. "This is the kind of games that he plays. It's all fun. Fun for him, fun for [the media] and I try to make it fun for me."
Gasol, who became worn down early on in the season while consistently playing 40-plus minutes a night before Bynum had returned from his knee surgery, seemed prepare to carry the load for another night against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
"It doesn't matter, it's a couple games," Gasol said. "You get it done. It doesn't matter if you play 10 extra minutes on one given night. You might have to play a two-overtime game down the road and you have to be ready for that. So, I don't mind it. For a couple games it's perfectly manageable."
What are also manageable, according to Bryant, are the injuries he's dealing with in the form of a stiff neck and sore left ankle. Bryant declared he was fine following the Portland game.
Jackson wasn't ready to say his shooting guard was 100 percent quite yet.
"Maybe he's close to it ... 99 [percent]," Jackson said.
While the theme of Monday's practice was how the team has missed Bynum, Bryant received several questions about Fisher's clutch performance against Portland and asked if he missed Fisher when he was gone from 2004-07 with Golden State and Utah.
"You mean when I was throwing it to Smush [Parker]?" Bryant said. "Yeah, I shot with three [expletive] on me. Now I only shoot with one, maybe two [defenders because Fisher is accounted for]."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.