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Jackson stays cool about Bynum

December 26, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The hype keeps growing for Andrew Bynum, although Phil Jackson has some advice for those who create it -- find a paper bag and breathe into it.

The Lakers' coach seemed mildly irritated by the ever-growing circle of breathlessness surrounding the Lakers' 20-year-old center, who is averaging 12.5 points and 10 rebounds in his third NBA season.

Jackson was bothered while watching tape of a recent game in which he heard broadcasters say Lakers fans should eventually get used to 20 points and 10 rebounds from Bynum every night.

"That's way too much pressure to put on this guy," Jackson said. "Who knows when he's going to be 20 and 10? That's not even a mark that we have to start prepping our audience for."

Bynum is playing better defense, and rebounding has been a strength, but Jackson wanted to reserve overall judgment on his improvement until later in the season.

"If he grows as much as he did between the beginning of last year and the end of last year this season, we can be competitive and we actually think that we can go and compete in some playoff games," Jackson said. "We've still got a ways to go to see where he's going to be as far as his development."

Jackson wanted Bynum to keep working on his post moves, and he also drew the distinction between Bynum fighting for his own baskets as opposed to connecting on easy dunks off well-placed lobs from teammates.

Bynum threw down a variety of dunks on the way to a career-high 28 points Tuesday against Phoenix, although he also scored on a well-orchestrated hook shot in the post against Brian Skinner.

In the grander scheme, Jackson hopes Bynum, who also had 12 rebounds against the Suns, will keep a level head.

"In this situation, everything's been done to accelerate Andrew's learning," Jackson said. "From this organization bending over backward to accommodate him . . . we're hopeful that it doesn't change the way he acts as a person. We've had people that have not responded well because they're too young and too pampered. Hopefully, Andrew's going to be one of those guys that understands what the process is and grows into it."

The Lakers played a ninth consecutive Christmas Day game, and although there wasn't any open griping like last season, Jackson didn't offer much when asked whether he was resigned to playing every year on Dec. 25.

"Yes," he said crisply.

The Lakers were, however, pleased to finally play at home after consecutive seasons in Miami on Christmas.

"For families, it's a lot more acceptable," Jackson said. "You can be with your kids. It's a lot easier to do. It still changes tremendously a day that's an anticipated day. But once you're out there, it's a game."

The Lakers played their first Christmas Day game in 1949 and are now 19-15 overall.

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