Tomorrow’s notebook tonight …
Kobe Bryant made it through Friday’s practice without aggravating his injured right wrist, Andrew Bynum had his suspension lowered to four games from five and Lakers coach Mike Brown announced Devin Ebanks would start Sunday.
Some day, huh?
After two weeks of non-stop bad news and disappointment, the dark clouds that seemed to be hovering over the Lakers finally lifted as they went through the next-to-last practice of their lockout-shortened 16-day training camp.
Of course, they still have issues, starting with the torn ligament in Bryant’s wrist, the fact that Bynum must sit out for four games and the notion that the inexperienced Ebanks is the best they could do at the small forward position.
The Lakers’ starting lineup for the season opener Sunday against the Chicago Bulls will be Bryant and Derek Fisher at the guard spots, Ebanks and Josh McRoberts at the forward positions and Pau Gasol at center.
It’s unclear how effective Bryant will be Sunday, after he injured his wrist in a fall midway through the third quarter of the Lakers’ exhibition loss Monday to the Clippers. He didn’t play in Wednesday’s defeat to the Clippers.
“I’m just really ignoring it,” he said.
The Lakers’ athletic training staff will make a special brace to protect him.
“I didn’t see anything different,” Brown said of Bryant. “He’s good to go. He’s tough. He’s a tough, tough, tough man. He did not sit out of anything. If he did (make adjustments), I didn’t notice it. I don’t think he did. … He looked as good as ever.”
Bynum will be eligible to return to the lineup for the Lakers’ game Dec. 31 against the Denver Nuggets. He can’t play Sunday against Chicago, Monday against Sacramento, Tuesday against the Utah Jazz and Thursday against New York.
“Hey, hey, way to go NBA, yes,” Brown said when asked for his reaction.
Brown then gave a fist-pump in case anyone misunderstood his happiness.
“I am greedy,” he added. “I would have taken zero, but four is better than five.”
Bynum was suspended for clobbering J.J. Barea on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ embarrassing 36-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the decisive Game 4 of their second-round playoff series last May.
“The only reason it was reduced is because the season is shorter,” Bynum said, referring to the fact that the lockout reduced the schedule from the standard 82 games to only 66 in 2011-12. “It makes sense.”
The Lakers’ Chicago-Sacramento-Utah slog to start the season is their only stretch of back-to-back-to-back games. However, it’s only part of a grueling start to the season, when they play six games in the first eight days.
McRoberts, a newly signed free agent, will replace Bynum. Gasol will then shift from power forward to center and McRoberts will start in Gasol’s spot. Gasol is adept at filling in for Bynum during his frequent absences because of injuries.
McRoberts’ accession is something new, however.
Lamar Odom usually stepped into the starting power forward’s role whenever Bynum was sidelined. Odom ceased to be an option after the Lakers dealt him to the rival Mavericks for a first-round draft pick and a trade exception earlier this month.
McRoberts signed Dec. 14 and has been playing catch-up ever since.
As for Ebanks’ move to the starting lineup, Brown decided some time ago he wanted to have Metta World Peace on the bench to spark the second unit. The competition for the starting position was between Ebanks and Matt Barnes.
“Rebound, play defense, hit the open shots and run the floor,” Ebanks said of his instructions from Brown for only his 21st NBA game.
The Lakers’ exhibition losses Monday and Wednesday to the Clippers were the two most-watched preseason games in NBA TV history, the network announced. The first game attracted 509,000 viewers and 556,000 watched the second.