Wednesday report

What a difference a year makes for the Lakers in the injury department. Their opening night starters last season – - Smush Parker, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm – - combined to miss a total of 37 games.

Parker played all 82 games, Bryant missed two due to a suspension, Odom missed two with a rib injury, Brown missed 10 with a hamstring strain and Mihm missed six with a shoulder injury and 17 after severely spraining his right ankle.

If you take the projected starting five this season – - Parker, Bryant, Luke Walton, Odom and Brown – - they already have missed 56 games. That’s before factoring in the 49 games Mihm has missed since having a second surgery on the ankle he injured last season.

So the Lakers have lost more than 100 games to injury already this season. They got the news Wednesday that Brown will be out another four to six weeks as he continues to recover from a severe ankle sprain. He would miss between 13 and 20 games based on that timetable.

Unless the Lakers are confident Mihm will be back in March – - and Phil Jackson said he is not putting any expectations on Mihm, who was supposed to miss the entire season – - then it probably makes sense for the Lakers to consider adding a big man.

That’s easier said than done, although there will be centers available as the Feb. 22 trade deadline approaches. Right now, the Lakers are making do with Andrew Bynum starting and Ronny Turiaf getting minutes as a backup center. Brian Cook and Vladimir Radmanovic are the emergency centers in case of foul trouble.

You also have to wonder if Bynum is going to be the starter from here on out. If Brown returns in the middle of March, Bynum will have logged 2 1-2 months as the full-time center since Brown went down with the ankle injury Dec. 31. Would Bynum be best served by going back to the bench? Would the team be best served by that move?

* * *

Back when the Lakers opened the season by playing 15 of their first 20 games at home, many people deferred judgment until the schedule balanced out. Well, after Thursday’s game at Detroit, the Lakers finally will be back to even. They have played 25 home games and will play their 25th road game against the Pistons.

If anyone has any thoughts about the Lakers at the 50-game mark, I’ll post them here if you send them.

* * *

What do you do on a 15-degree night in Detroit? You see what this Hockeytown thing is all about. I hadn’t been to an NHL game since the lockout but bought a ticket and beer and took in the Red Wings-Coyotes game at Joe Louis Arena, where the Stanley Cup banners go back to 1935-36.

Detroit won 4-2 and Henrik Zetterberg – - who I couldn’t have named before Wednesday – - had one of the goals of the season. At least that’s what they said on the postgame radio show. He had a breakaway in the second period, wrapped around the goal and deftly flipped in a backhand shot instead of trying to cram the puck in the net.

Another highlight: Somebody had the brilliant marketing idea of driving a Toyota Tundra on the ice during the first intermission. You couldn’t even hear the sales pitch for the truck because of the fans who were alternately booing and shouting obscenities. This city feels the pain of the American automaker like no other.

For what it’s worth, Phil Jackson is a hockey fan. There was a Thrashers-Sabres game being played on Tuesday in Atlanta. “Those are two good teams,” Jackson informed us. Of course, it’s probably a good idea that Jackson – - who starred in a recent series of Toyota commercials – - didn’t head to Joe Louis on Wednesday.

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  • Ray

    I think if you would have asked anyone before this season that if the Lakers were hit with this many injuries, would miss a combined 56 games, coupled with Mihm out for possibly the whole season (at the time) no one would have predicted a record of 30-19. You can truly see that this team is maturing together & that when someones down another person steps up.

    As far as the Bynum situation goes….. I think you have to evaluate him at the time of Brown’s return. If at that time Bynum can match Kwame’s intensity on the defensive end & belly up to the established big men, then he deserves to start. If his defense does not pick up then Kwame should get the nod.

    To the people that have already given Baby Bynum the Job:

    Everyone is just looking at Bynum’s numbers and comparing them to Kwame or others in the league. While they look good take a look at the #’s for some of the players he guarded in the post…………

    Chandler 7-13Fg 3-4Ft 12Reb 7Off 17Pts

    Okafur 7-12Fg 6-7Ft 18Reb 5Off 20pts

    Duncan 10-23Fg 14Reb 4Off 21pts

    Curry 9-18Fg 9-12Ft 9Reb 4Off 27Pts

    Defense in the middle or the second line of defense is very key to the Laker’s success.
    While I do agree Bynum is our future center, Kwame is a more established presence in the middle.
    Bynum simply can’t bump with the men in the league yet. Now you can argue he needs time on the floor to develop and again I would agree. But also note that he will see time at backup.

    Now I know people want Kwame and Bynum on the floor together but lets step back and look at this realistically. Now you are putting both of your inside players in a sitation to pick up fouls and then who comes off the bench? You’ll say Turiaf… well if you know basketball that’s not the answer. Also putting two bigs on the floor would not work as far as matchup purposes, especially since most teams are going to the run n’ gun type offense. If you look at Bynum’s numbers compared to who he guarded they pretty much even out, so his numbers offensively don’t mean much!

    Now on to our overall play… Plain and simple Laker Fans, our team is INCONSISTENT!! When a team is young and trying to gel together they are going to hit road bumps. They’ll play to the level of bad teams, they’ll turn the ball over a lot, have bad shooting nights, not waork together on defense, etc… Then the next night they’ll look the Showtime Lakers!
    As the season progresses and they come together on the road,get healthy, this team will be ready to make some true noise in the playoffs.