Ariza fractured a bone in his foot at practice Sunday and was
examined Monday by foot specialist Dr. Ken Jung, who set the
timeline for his return. Ariza has averaged 6.5 points and 3.5
rebounds in 24 games since being acquired from Orlando on Nov. 20
for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans.
"It's just another obstacle in the road, but it happens on
every team," the 22-year-old Ariza said before Monday night's game
against Denver. "I think our team has enough character to where we
can pull through this time, and I'm sure we'll find a way to win.
"It's definitely tough for anybody who wants to help their team
to sit out. But I can't be bitter about it. I can just take the
punches as they come, play my part, and just cheer my team on."
Bynum injured his left kneecap Jan. 13 against Memphis and isn't
expected to return before the middle of March. The Lakers also have
been playing without center Chris Mihm (sore right Achilles
tendon) and forward Vladimir Radmanovic (sprained right ankle). The
Lakers hope both will be back in the next few weeks.
"We'll just have to work our way through this," Lakers coach
Phil Jackson said . "Trevor was playing really well and he's going
to have to sit out a couple months."
While lamenting his team's latest injury, Lakers forward
Lamar Odom said that sort of thing is part of the game.
"Every time we go out there, that could be the last time,"
Odom said. "Hopefully these guys heal fast and get back out there.
It's tough, sometimes it takes the breath out of you, especially
when you're playing so well. We have to find some way to recover."
The Lakers entered Monday night's game having won 17 of their
previous 21 games, having split two games without Bynum.
Hoping to compensate for the absence of Bynum and Mihm, the
Lakers signed free-agent center DJ Mbenga to a 10-day contract. The
7-footer from the Congo was released by Golden State on Jan. 6.
Mbenga was averaging 1.2 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.63 blocked
shots and 8.1 minutes in 16 games with the Warriors. He spent three
seasons with Dallas before being waived Oct. 30. He was limited to
21 games last season because of a left foot tendon strain and a
torn right anterior cruciate ligament.