George Karl: Lakers Better Without Andrew Bynum?

When Andrew Bynum was injured, many worried that the Lakers' title hopes may have been dashed.

And yet ... since Bynum's torn medial collateral ligament, the Lakers have been nearly perfect, having won 12 of 13.

Nuggets' coach George Karl wonders if maybe the story has been twisted. Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times quotes him asking the big question:

"Don't you have to make the statement that maybe they're better without Bynum?" he asked reporters in Denver on Thursday. "Why do we always say Bynum? How many games has he played for this team? I like Bynum. I think he's a great player. But sometimes you can have too much talent out there and it can kind of be confusing."

Of course, this could be an old-fashioned case of gamesmanship -- with a Western Conference rival hoping to stir up dissension among the Lakers. But it is also a question to be pondered, and one many worried about before the season: Do Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol stifle each other? (Or, as some suggest, is the real issue that Lamar Odom is much better when pressed to play a bigger role?)

Indications are we'll get to find out soon enough. Bresnahan reports that Bynum is already riding a bike and an elliptical machine. His recovery appears to be on schedule. That means he's expected back some time between March 30 and April 27, given the team's announced eight-to-12 week forecast for recovery from the knee injury.