Pregame chatter

DENVER — Phil Jackson addressed the idea that the Lakers are a better team without 7-foot center Andrew Bynum clogging up the paint and slowing them down. Jackson agreed that the Lakers are quicker and able to run more effectively without Bynum, who is sidelined by a torn knee ligament until at least April.

“Offensively, we’re more streamlined,” the Lakers’ coach said tonight. “We probably run better offensively. We can do things will multiple ballhanders out there, particularly with Luke (Walton) and Lamar (Odom) out there. We know have four ballhandlers. Pau (Gasol) is very capable of running. So that part of our game, fastbreaks and scoring, has gone up. Defensively, I don’t think we’re quite as good.”

Remember, the Lakers got thumped around the basket by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals last June. Bynum’s absence was viewed by many as the main reason why the Lakers lost to the Celtics in six games. The Lakers were called soft and worse because they failed to match-up physically against the Celtics.

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