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LAKERS FYI

Phil Jackson: Andrew Bynum still a month away from playing

Lakers coach says the center, who injured his knee Jan. 31, won't be in basketball shape until the playoffs.

March 20, 2009|Broderick Turner

Andrew Bynum's return from an injured knee keeps getting pushed back, to the point that it looks as if the Lakers center won't play before the playoffs start in April.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, talking Thursday about Bynum's torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee after saying he wouldn't comment on it until April, said he expects Bynum to come back in a month and not in two weeks.

Jackson said the team was not "looking at that as a possibility" of Bynum playing in a game when the Lakers return from a seven-game trip.

The Lakers will have seven games remaining when they come back, five at home.

The Lakers end the regular season April 14 and would start the playoffs sometime that weekend.

"Right now Andrew, I would say at this point, it looks like he's a month away and that's like the end of the season," Jackson said.

Bynum, who was injured Jan. 31 against Memphis and was given a timetable of returning at eight to 12 weeks, has been riding a stationary bike and working out on a treadmill.

But that's not basketball shape.

"I would say he's still like a month away from being a player," Jackson said. "And if he had to do that in the postseason, then he's going to have to do it. That's just part of it. It's going to change how he comes back obviously.

"The best case is that he plays the first part of April. On the pace he's been going at this point, it's really hard to see him in two weeks all of a sudden being able to do that."

They understand

Jackson has frequently called out the bench for its selfish and poor play.

The substitutes have listened closely and they agree with Jackson's assessment.

"When the bench was playing great, he wasn't criticizing," Luke Walton said. "He was giving the bench a lot of credit."

Walton went from being a starter to the bench five games ago in an attempt to help the offense more.

He said he noticed how the bench players weren't moving the basketball or playing with much energy.

"The bench, they have a lot of pride and a lot of pride in what our responsibility is and being the Bench Mob," Walton said.

"We know we need to step up and play and obviously we don't need Phil to tell us that."

Sun struggles

In his fifth game playing for the D-Fenders, Sun Yue didn't show much offensively.

He scored only four points and missed five of his six shots.

Sun was reassigned to the NBA Development League by the Lakers early Thursday in order to get him more playing time.

But in 23 minutes, he had as many fouls as points.

"Maybe the officials don't think Chinese players can block shots," Sun said, jokingly.

He will continue to play with the D-Fenders while the Lakers leave today for their seven-game trip.

--

broderick.turner@latimes.com

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