Monday, April 21, 2008 Updated: April 22, 7:26 PM ET
Lakers coach says Bynum not close to contributing to team
EL SEGUNDO , Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson indicated Monday the team doesn't expect injured center Andrew Bynum to make a serious contribution any time soon.
When asked after practice if there was a risk of messing up team chemistry by playing 7-footers Bynum and Pau Gasol at the same time, Jackson replied: "I think without a doubt that Andrew would come off the bench and we would play him a little bit off the bench if there was any chance that he could come back and play again, but it's such a remote thing. We're not seriously thinking about it."
Gasol had 36 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists in the Lakers' 128-114 victory over Denver on Sunday in Game 1 of their first round playoff series.
The 20-year-old Bynum averaged 13.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots before injuring his left knee Jan. 13. He hasn't been cleared for practice, nor has forward Trevor Ariza, who hasn't played since breaking his right foot Jan. 20. Ariza averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 24 games after being acquired from Orlando on Nov. 20.
Jackson said Ronny Turiaf was sent home Monday because of a sore throat, but he hoped the backup forward/center would be available Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Lakers' first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. And reserve center DJ Mbenga was hospitalized after a collision in a 2-on-2 game following practice. Team spokesman John Black said a CT scan showed Mbenga had bruised ribs on his right side and was listed as day-to-day.
In Denver, Nuggets coach George Karl said Monday there was a "good chance" he would make a lineup change in Game 2.
"We talked about some lineup changes before yesterday," Karl said. "We decided to go with the guys that got us to the dance. There is a good chance there will be a change."
Reserve Linas Kleiza scored a career playoff high 23 points in nearly 38 minutes, and fellow backup J.R. Smith added 15 points in almost 23 minutes in Game 1.
Karl also said he was "really disappointed" with his team's defensive effort in the opener.
"I don't think we matched their playoff intensity and defensively, we got shocked by the high-low game of Gasol and [Lamar] Odom," Karl said. "We generally froze up in a big game, the first game of a series. I don't think we performed at a level we are capable of performing."
Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said he believes his team can make the necessary adjustments.
"We didn't do a real good job helping one another," Martin said. "It wasn't just a particular matchup. Most teams that win championships play defense. We want to be one of those teams."
Teammate Marcus Camby agreed, saying: "Defense is a whole lot more important now. Defense is something we talked about all season long. We're not that bad a defensive team as it is being made out to be."
Camby, the NBA's defensive player of the year last season, had only four points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots along with a team-high four turnovers in Game 1. He sat out the entire fourth quarter.
"I'm not frustrated with it," Camby said. "The guys that were in there were playing hard. I have to be ready to go on Wednesday."