|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
Andrew Bynum also stressed the opportunity coming up when the team travels through San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta. "We have a good road test coming up," Bynum said. "It should definitely be a fun trip for us. I think we're going to go out there and win the majority of them to really show that we're still capable of winning on the road." Bryant said that the team's priority or what to work on is "always defense first and our rotations" and is keeping his mind on the Timberwolves and Wizards, even if others are looking past those games a bit. "I'm not [thinking about the road]; I'm sure [Phil] is as a coach," Bryant said. "We kind of got to balance each other out sometimes. If he's projecting down the road, then I have to stay in the moment. If I'm projecting down the road, he has to stay in the moment. But it's a big trip coming up, no doubt." Bynum's brace battle In the Lakers' current four-game winning streak, Bynum is averaging 20.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, a significant uptick from his season averages of 15.1, 8.4 and 1.5, respectively.
Bynum credits the improvement to several things. First, making defensive stops has gotten him started on the offensive end. "I think I just kind of started focusing more on the defensive side of the basketball, and it's helped out," Bynum said. Also, the team's philosophy has shifted toward feeding the post more often. "PJ's been really, really getting on guys about getting the ball inside, getting us touches, so the team's been following him," Bynum said. "We just got to keep throwing the ball inside, and if we keep getting efficient numbers, I don't think it should stop." Finally, he's feeling healthy again after missing time before the All-Star break with knee and hip ailments. "The hip is feeling better day by day. It's not all the way there yet, but tendinitis is always an issue for me, so I've been getting a little bit extra treatment," Bynum said. Despite how he has bounced back from two major knee injuries in the past two seasons, he is resigned to the fact that he'll always have to wear a brace on his left knee. "With me, I want to get the brace off, that's what I want to do, and the doctor tells me I can't do that," Bynum said. "That's the only part to me right now that's a little frustrating because it just rubs on my knee and causes other parts of [my] body to have issues. That's my only kind of downer as far as having those injuries. It's not going to get any tighter, so I have to wear it for the rest of my career." Kobe's Congo court Mike Trudell reported on the Lakers' official Web site this week that Los Angeles center D.J. Mbenga plans to dedicate a court in his native Congo to Bryant sometime in the near future. Bryant is very impressed by the gesture. "I'm deeply honored by it," Bryant said. "He and I, since he's been here, we've established a really close relationship, a close bond and every [road] trip, he educates me more and more about the Congo. It's something we've kind of talked about, me planning a trip and going over and visiting and spending some time with him over there." Walton's catching on to coaching What started as one-game fill-in duty in Phoenix because assistant coach Jim Cleamons couldn't make the trip has become a regular gig for Luke Walton as he tracks offensive possessions in a notebook while watching games from the bench in street clothes as he continues to rehab a back injury. "He's bucking against it a little bit, but he's coming through and being a good sport about it," Jackson said about his newest assistant coach. "His penmanship is not very good if you want me to get all into it. His execution is not great yet, but we're going to have him there before the season's out." Jackson isn't getting too used to having Walton on the coaching staff, however. "Luke is pushing himself towards sometime in April where he can play regular-season games because we know what he can do for us in the playoffs when he's healthy," Jackson said.