Oklahoma City power forward Nick Collison fouls Lakers center Andrew Bynum… (James Schammerhorn / Associated…)
Reporting from Oklahoma City — It was the ultimate compliment paid by his coach.
"Andrew [Bynum] was very good," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said about his young center.
Indeed, Bynum was a force for the Lakers during their 90-87 victory over the Thunder on Sunday.
It was more than his five blocked shots, which was telling. It was more than his 7-foot frame, which was a deterrent.
It was how active Bynum was.
He had 16 points, missing just two of his seven shots.
He had 10 rebounds, three offensive. He also had two assists, one steal and one foul in 31 minutes, 39 seconds.
"Today, mentally more than anything, I was in the right spots," Bynum said. "That's just what enabled me to have the kind of game that I did. Defensively, it's timing."
Late in the game, Jackson said he "reluctantly" replaced Bynum with Pau Gasol because he's more mobile.
"But Andrew was blocking and changing shots," Jackson said.
Bynum had right knee surgery over the summer and is still trying to get back to 100%, and he missed one game with a bone bruise in his left knee.
"His activity obviously is an issue," Jackson said. "A lot of it's due to how he feels physically. He's going to have knee issues as he goes along and he just has to monitor that. I think when he feels well, you see his activity level increase."
Barnes waits for go-ahead
If it were up to Matt Barnes, he would play right away.
But it's not up to Barnes to decide when he'll play again after having right knee surgery on Jan. 11.
His fate will rest in the hands of Jackson, who's not sure when his backup small forward will return to action.
"When he gets into a contact situation and we see him go through some contact, there'll be a decision that probably will be affirmative in that regard," Jackson said.
Jackson said he's not sure how effective Monday's practice in Minneapolis will be for Barnes, who is on this two-game trip with the Lakers.
When Barnes had surgery to repair a torn cartilage, the team announced that he would be out about eight weeks. Based on that schedule, Barnes would be able to play Tuesday when the Lakers face Minnesota.
"Progress has been very good," Barnes said. "Now it's really up to Phil. I've been practicing and rehabbing well. Just have to see when everybody wants me back. I feel good… When I'm back, I want to make sure I stay back and everybody on the staff is making sure that happens."
The Lakers return home Wednesday but may not practice. They will be back at practice Thursday.
The next game is Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Center.