The Lakers' inconsistent second unit will probably maintain its less than peak efficiency for a while longer, as Andrew Bynum's ETA for active duty remains up in the air. He was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Lomardo after last night's win and while making progress, according to a team spokesman, Drew isn't ready for running or jumping. An MRI exam will happen Monday or Tuesday, but for the time being, Lamar Odom remains a starter, an obvious weakening of the bench.
But perhaps some degree of improvement could be on the horizon. Assuming no setbacks from today's practice, Luke Walton plans to suit up Sunday against San Antonio after a long absence from a pinched nerve in his back. The signs point toward getting some run, and with Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar often struggling to create for themselves or others, Walton's ability to run the offense and manufacture clean looks could help loosen a rather stagnant pine crew. Fittingly, he'd like his return to coincide with a return to steady triangular execution:
"I'm not going to try to come back and be a big scorer or anything. The thing I've noticed the most is the lack of execution. The flow hasn't been as good, for the most part. We've shown at times we can do it. It just hasn't been as consistent. I'm just coming with the mindset of trying to get everything running correctly. Get the offense working. Get people easy shots and see if that won't start carrying over to everybody else."
Phil Jackson refused to tab Walton a second-unit savior, much less imply he's capable of matching what LO brings to the table. "I wouldn't lay that on anybody. I think that's a group thing." Still, there was optimism over the forward's ability to make his bench presence a productive one.
"I think he can help the second unit," explained Jackson. "Kinda solidify it as a play maker in that group a little bit from a different position than just our guards."
Walton has made the most of his time in a suit, which he described as "one of the toughest years of basketball in my life." He's recently served as a quasi-assistant coach -- an "aide," as PJ joked -- tracking plays and doing other clipboard-centric activities, which turned out to be pretty enjoyable. The coaches even included him in a meeting, and Walton was grateful they'd go so far out of their way to help him feel like a part of the club while unable to play.
"It was a way to keep me going. Keep me at practice everyday and doing different things at the game. To help them out, but also help me out, mentally and stuff like that. Staying positive," he said.
Walton may have been a faux-member of the coaching staff, but that didn't stop teammates from asking (presumably tongue in cheek) to put in a good word on their behalf for more PT. Given Sasha Vujacic's recent situation, I wondered if The Machine took Walton out to dinner as part of his "atonement" the coaching staff.
"No," laughed Luke. "I declined the invitation."
Lamar Odom, on proper execution of the offense
Interesting take from LO on why the offensive execution breaks down:
"We got so many guys who can make plays on our own. We just try to go out and get it. Sometimes we're down eight or 10 points and we try to get it back all in one play. Everybody starts to go one-on-one and when that doesn't work, our defense and our all-around game suffers."
Pau Gasol, on consistency, execution and how familiarity can breed success against the Spurs