Sweeping the Jazz earned the Lakers
six days off before the start of the Western Conference finals against the
Phoenix Suns. Meanwhile both Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum have rested their right
Bynum and the rest of the Lakers’
big men are expected to be the focal point of attack against Phoenix. In the first two games against Utah, Bynum averaged
12.5 points and 12 rebounds.
“I think I just need to be a little
more active, which is tough with the knee, but I think I can get it done,”
Bynum said. “I think I just have to take advantage of early opportunities,
that’s all I can really do.
“In the half-court set, they’re
going to be fronting, They’re going to be doing things, we’re going to be doing
ball movement things as an offensive unit — but if I get down the court before
all that happens, I get myself into the game, I get myself going.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson agreed
that Bynum could offer a huge advantage over Phoenix’s front line of 6-foot-11 Jarron Collins
and 6-10 Amare Stoudemire.
“I think Drew has played through
some of the discomfort and limitedness of his injury,” Jackson said. “But I thought in Utah he couldn’t quite
get there to the point where he had to play with explosion and aggression. We
hope he gets it back again.”
Something Jackson has thought about is the Lakers bench
and how it needs to improve to contend with the Suns’ second unit. Phoenix’s first five off
the bench — Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa and
Louis Amundson — are averaging 34 points and 15.7 rebounds combined during the
playoffs. The Lakers’ bench core averages 25.6 points and 14.1 rebounds.
Phoenix’s bench has
made such an impact so far that Kobe Bryant rattled each contributor off by
name when questioned about the Suns’ depth.
“It’s something that we’ll have to
contend with,” Bryant said. “Their guys coming off the bench are playing with
so much confidence, they enjoy playing in this system. We all know about
Barbosa and Dragic has really stepped up, he’s making huge contributions.
Amundson comes in and brings energy, takes charges and things like that.
They’ve really turned into a deep team.”