Lakers center Andrew Bynum, right, tries to put up a shot past Utah forward… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Andrew Bynum had more rebounds than shot attempts against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and had more blocked shots than personal fouls.
That was a sign of how far the Lakers' center has come since being inserted into the starting lineup.
His focus, however, is not on offense, but on defense, rebounding and being a deterrent.
"We have a lot of scorers on this team, so offensively, if you get a play run for you, you better be successful with it because we've got a lot of guys who are able to score," Bynum said after the 29-point win over the Jazz. "But defensively, I think I can be active and challenge a lot of shots, change a lot of shots."
And that's what he did against the Jazz, blocking three shots, altering several others, while picking up just two fouls.
He was six of nine from the field, seven of eight from the free-throw line, scored 19 points and collected 11 rebounds.
"I still don't have all my explosiveness," Bynum said. "I'm not able to go dunk balls like I used to. That's the only concern I really have. It's really just getting that back, that quick-jumping ability back."
And how long will that take?
"I hope it happens soon," Bynum said.
Since he returned to the starting lineup 15 games ago, the Lakers have been a different team, with a 12-3 record. Bynum has averaged 13.3 points on 59.3% shooting, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots in 27.2 minutes during that span.
"I think I said last week I thought he was 90% of where he wants to be," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I think his conditioning is pretty good now. It's just the little pop that he has on his legs to get up and get a rebound and then return with a rebound and get back up through a crowd or through traffic."
Bryant by the numbers
Lately, Kobe Bryant has looked spry, as if his knees aren't an issue for the 32-year-old guard, and has been more efficient on offense.
Bryant sat at his locker after the Jazz game wearing a black robe, and a smile on his face when asked about his recent play.
He looked at both knees, first bouncing the right one he had off-season surgery on and then the left
"They are just good," Bryant said about his knees. "Naw, I'm just ratcheting it up. As the season goes on, I always try to get better. I just always try to improve."
In his last eight games, he has made 55.3% of his shots, and has averaged 23.4 points, 6.4 assists and five rebounds.
And since Bynum has returned to the starting lineup, Bryant is facilitating more of the offense.
"I work on my game all the time," Bryant said. "Just because it's my 15th season, it doesn't mean I can't get better."
Forbes posted its annual valuations of NBA franchises and said the Lakers are worth $643 million, second behind only the New York Knicks at $655 million. The financial publication said the Lakers had operating income of $33.4 million in the past year on revenue of $214 million. … The Lakers took Wednesday off, but will be back at practice Thursday.