Lakers center Andrew Bynum draws a foul from New Orleans center Aaron Gray… (Derick E. Hingle / US Presswire )
By Broderick Turner, reporting from new orleans
Again, the Lakers are hoping to get center Andrew Bynum back to playing at a higher level.
Bynum sat out Tuesday's game against Houston because of a bone bruise in his left knee, and in Thursday's loss to San Antonio he didn't produce the way Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wanted
Then again, Bynum hasn't become the same player Jackson saw last season.
"Drew, historically he's been good at running, post-sprinting," Jackson said. "He hasn't done much of that lately, and that's an important part we have to get back."
Bynum sat out the first 24 regular-season games recovering from right knee surgery, and he's still trying to improve his conditioning.
Jackson wants his 7-foot center to continue to improve his defense as well.
"We're about him getting the position, blocking shots, being active, challenging people coming into the lane," Jackson said. "Those type of things."
Bynum had 12 points, seven rebounds and one blocked shot in the victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.
"I feel all right," Bynum said. "I still need a little bit more time, but I'll get it back."
Bynum's game against the Hornets was an improvement over his play against the Spurs.
"He wasn't active enough," Jackson said about the Spurs game. "He got some shots blocked. Some things happened that weren't positive for him out there. But he said he was OK, and that's the best part about it. He said he was pretty good after the game."
Bench is so-so
As a whole, the Lakers' bench has not been as productive since Matt Barnes went down because of a right knee injury.
Against the Hornets on Saturday night, Jackson played only three players off his bench.
Lamar Odom played almost 32 minutes and had nine points. Shannon Brown played almost 19, scoring six points, and Steve Blake was scoreless in about 17 minutes.
"We haven't had a lot of pickup from our bench," Jackson said. "We miss Matt Barnes. I don't know if you guys [in the media] noticed that or not, but we lost a player that's hard to match what he gave us at that time. So we're trying to fill in right now in stretches with the bench."
The Lakers entered Saturday night's game against the Hornets having lost three out of four, and Jackson was asked whether there was a common theme in those losses that the Lakers could use to make corrections.
"Two of them is the quality of opponents. The third one, I can't lay claim to that one," Jackson said, smiling.
One loss was to the Boston Celtics and the other to the Spurs, the teams with the top two records in the NBA. The other loss was to the Sacramento Kings, who have the third-worst record in the NBA.