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Lakers centre Bynum and coach Jackson are at odds

The Canadian Press

5/23/2009 7:05:27 PM

DENVER - Andrew Bynum wants to play more minutes, and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson has just the solution: Play better defence.

"If he plays well, he'll have more time," Jackson said Saturday, several hours before Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets.

Bynum criticized the Lakers' defensive scheme after getting yanked from Game 2 early in the second half for his lackadaisical play that led to an easy bucket for Denver.

Jackson was displeased that Bynum didn't hustle downcourt after failing to get a pass in the post, which allowed Nuggets centre Nene to make a layup and draw a foul from Kobe Bryant.

So, Bynum took a seat with 7:14 left in the third quarter and never returned, finishing with nine points, two rebounds, one foul and no turnovers in the Lakers' 106-103 loss that evened the series at 1-1.

Bynum bristled Friday when asked about Denver's frontcourt prowess in this series.

"They're getting their stuff because of our defensive scheme. They're just driving to the basket and nobody's bumping them," Bynum said, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Before Game 3, Bynum said he hadn't discussed his criticism with his coach but he alternately stuck by his assertion and backed away from it.

"Yeah, and I think we went over some different things today, changed it up a little bit," Bynum said of the defensive philosophies.

So, what exactly was wrong with the defensive scheme?

"Not the scheme is the problem. We're just not executing it," Bynum said. "You've got to take away that middle pass. They're throwing it into the middle and just getting too much penetration."

Bynum insisted there's no friction between him and Jackson.

"No, definitely not. Like I said, the scheme is fine. We're not executing it," he said.

Does that mean Bynum's not executing it?

"Everybody," he said. "Nobody's doing what we need to do correctly."

Bynum, who missed a chunk of the season for the second straight year after tearing a ligament in his right knee Jan. 31, has been inconsistent in the playoffs.

He went scoreless three times against Houston in the semifinals. Bynum said he's feeling fine and guessed his knee was at 85 to 90 per cent.

He brushed aside a suggestion that having missed so much time, he's playing at a slower speed in the playoffs than his opponents.

"The only part that's tough is not knowing when you're going to be called upon," Bynum said. "Because you get tight and you get stiff."

Jackson said the way to stay on the court was playing better, but he added that this dispute with his 21-year-old centre was overblown.

"I think he's doing fine. I think there's just way too much focus. This is a guy who hasn't even played a lot of minutes," Jackson said. "To sustain the effort for Andrew is a big deal.

"He can run for three, four minutes on the court and then he tires. ... So, we're just looking for short bursts from him and opportunities for him to go in there and help us."