Now they count

Some odds and ends as the Lakers wrap up the preseason with a 4-4 record:

One of the things keeping Phil Jackson from committing 100 percent to coaching in Tuesdays opener is the prospect of coaching Wednesday night on the road at Golden State.

Jackson doesnt want to return to the job unless it’s for good after undergoing hip-replacement surgery. He didnt make the drive to Anaheim for Thursdays exhibition game and might not be far enough along in his recovery to fly.

The Lakers are looking into ways to make travel easier on Jackson but the bottom line is that he is going to have to sit through charter flights and bus rides the next couple of months.

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Its worth remembering what Andrew Bynum did in the Lakers first exhibition game to measure just how far he came in a few short weeks.

Bynum finished with two points and four turnovers in 18 minutes against Utah in Fresno, losing the ball twice as Derek Fisher simply stole it out of his hands.

Compare that to Bynums 23-point, seven-rebound, five-assist game against Denver. He outplayed about $130 million worth of forwards in Nene and Kenyon Martin on Thursday in Anaheim.

Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said Bynum is benefiting from being so unknown to opposing teams. But Rambis also could not have given a stronger endorsement of his (now) 19-year-old big man.

“My opinion about Andrew has not wavered at all, Rambis said. “I think Andrew is going to be a terrific ballplayer in this league.

“It still may take a couple, three years, but I think down the road the Lakers have a real fine player on their hands because he likes to play at both ends of the court.

In the third quarter, Bynum got more emotional than he has shown in his career. He had position and Sasha Vujacic could have passed him the ball. When Vujacic didnt throw it, Bynum could be heard yelling, “Get me the (expletive) ball.

What did assistant coach Brian Shaw yell at Vujacic during the next timeout? “Get him the (expletive) ball.

Rambis also revealed that the Lakers coaches have told Bynum that his first priority whenever he catches the ball is to look for teammates. He found Lamar Odom for a couple of 3-pointers in the first quarter.

* * *

You can scratch McDonalds off the list of potential endorsement deals for Bynum. He said after the game that part of the reason hes playing better is because he has taken nutrition more seriously this season.

That means no more McDonalds and more of his mothers cooking. Bynum said he watched the documentary “Super Size Me and that changed his thinking.

“Actually, you feel a huge difference, Bynum said. “Youre not as sluggish as you would be. Im just going out there and playing a little bit faster and quicker.’

* * *

Odom was asked about how little the Lakers seem to hesitate in getting the ball to Bynum.

“You have to, Odom said. “He positions himself so well. It just so happens that he works every day with the best center of all-time. So hes going to get better.

Odom was talking about Bynums special sessions with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

* * *

Sometimes you hear stuff over the course of an 82-game season that makes you wonder. Here was Rambis answer to the question of whether veteran guard Aaron McKie has shown enough in the preseason to prove he can still play:

“I thought he did a terrific job, Rambis said. “He still needed to get in good shape, he still needed to work on some strength/conditioning type things. But I thought he held his own out there.

Not only is McKie out with a back injury, his stats from October don’t exactly scream “held his own.”

Three games, 39 minutes, 1 of 2 from the field, two assists and four rebounds.

If they do decide to keep McKie instead of Devin Green, the Lakers run the risk of playing early-season games without 12 healthy players on the active roster.

They already will be without Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm. If McKie cant go, that fills up the three inactive spots. The Lakers also are dealing with Kobe Bryants questionable right knee and Shammond Williams abdominal injury.

One positive in keeping McKie is that he has additional value in having a contract that expires after this season.

* * *

The Nuggets shot 60.6 percent against the Lakers and outrebounded them 51-31. Carmelo Anthony had 32 points on 11 of 16 shooting and was unstoppable at times.

The Lakers went 18 for 30 from the foul line (60 percent), which left them at 154 for 234 (65.8 percent) for the preseason. Odom missed 4 of 7 free throws and Brian Cook missed another after Denver was called for a defensive three seconds technical.

* * *

Vladimir Radmanovic finished the preseason having made 10 of 36 shots and 2 of 15 3-pointers. Its a sign of how bad his hand must be when Radmanovic is shooting 13 percent from beyond the arc.


By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

ANAHEIM–For his career, Lakers forward Vladimir Radmanovic has taken an average of 300 3-pointers a season and established himself as one of the NBAs most dangerous long-distance shooters.

When Radmanovic fires away this season, however, it could come with a piece of foam taped between the ring finger and pinky on his shooting hand.

Radmanovic has a torn ligament in his shooting hand that likely will require surgery this summer. In the meantime, he will try to find a way to play through the injury, which is not expected to get any better.

“Its frustrating, especially as a shooter, Radmanovic said. “Your right hand is your biggest weapon and youve got it messed up. Ill just have to find different ways to score and help this team win.

After missing the last three exhibition games, Radmanovic returned Thursday night in the Lakers 126-108 loss to Denver. He finished with seven points on 3-for-9 shooting and fouled out in 21 minutes.

Radmanovics shot was alarmingly off all game. He barely grazed the rim on a catch-and-shoot jumper in the first quarter and missed everything on a baseline jumper and 3-pointer in the second half.

There also was the sight of Radmanovic extending his left hand – - instead of his right – - to high five Luke Walton coming off the court in the first quarter.

Radmanovic said there was no guarantee his hand would heal on its own with rest, which could have taken as long as four weeks.

“It feels good until somebody hits you, Radmanovic said. “I just have to find a way to play through it.

The kid: A day before his 19th birthday, Andrew Bynum had 18 points in the first half – - more than in any NBA game in his career – - and produced several highlight plays. He finished with 23 points.

In the first quarter, Bynum blocked Kenyon Martin at one end of the court and connected on a hook shot over Martin at the other end. Bynum later used an up-and-under move in dunking on Nene in the second quarter.

Bynum also made a bold prediction about how the Lakers should do playing 15 of their first 20 games at home this season.

“We should go 15-5 at the least, Bynum said.

Roster moves: The Lakers waived guards Von Wafer and J.R. Pinnock, leaving them with 16 players on the roster, one more than the NBA maximum. Wafer played in 16 games last season; Pinnock was a second-round draft pick.

With a Monday deadline to finalize rosters, the Lakers have to make one more move. The last roster spot is expected to come down to either Devin Green or Aaron McKie.

McKie has a guaranteed $2.5 million contract for this season but missed the last four exhibition games with a back injury.

Cook update: The Lakers have until Tuesday to sign Brian Cook to a contract extension. Mark Bartelstein, Cooks agent, said “nothings imminent and that the two sides have “talked about things conceptually.

“I dont know if anything gets done or not, Bartelstein said. “Were having conversations. Thats about all I can say.

If the two sides cant agree, Cook would be a restricted free agent after this season, with the Lakers able to match any offer he would receive.

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