LOS ANGELES (AP)—Andrew Bynum appears to be getting his game back just in time for the playoffs.
In his third appearance since returning from a 32-game absence, Bynum scored 18 points and was a force in the middle while playing just over half of a 92-75 Lakers’ romp over Memphis on Sunday night.
Bynum, who tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Jan. 31, rejoins Pau Gasol to give the Lakers a powerful pair of 7-footers up front.
Bynum went 6-of-10 from the floor, made all six of his free throws, and had five rebounds in 25:03. Gasol, often matched against his brother Marc, had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Bynum said he’s adjusting to playing again.
“I’m feeling a little better, my timing’s getting better,” he said. “I’m getting back into the flow, getting back into the rhythm.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson noted the progress.
“Obviously, that initial game, he was kind of awkward out there, not comfortable,” Jackson said. “I think he is much more comfortable doing what he has to do out there.
“Tuesday night’s game is his final tuneup before the playoffs.”
The Lakers (64-17) are all but mathematically eliminated in the duel with Cleveland (65-15) for best record and end the regular season Tuesday night at home against the Jazz—their probable first-round opponent.
“We’re going into (the Utah game) trying to send them a message,” Bynum said.
Bryant, asked whether the Lakers would rather play Utah or Dallas in the opening series, said “It doesn’t matter. You’re going to have two different styles of play. In terms of physical play, Utah is actually one of the best teams in the league.”
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said the Lakers obviously weren’t about to take the same approach as when they lost in Portland two nights earlier.
“They were aggressive. That’s all it was, they were very aggressive,” Hollins said. “They had a tough loss the other night and they came out and played much harder. They took post-ups out of the game, they double-teamed and zoned up to the post-ups and we struggled to score.
“We went out without any intensity and any aggressiveness and got beat by a much better team that was more focused than we were.”
Jackson said he’s cut down on G Derek Fisher’s minutes over the past few games because he wants him rested for the playoffs. Fisher played 18 minutes against Memphis and scored four points on 2-of-9 shooting. … Los Angeles went 4-0 to sweep the series against Memphis for the first time since 2002-03. … Los Angeles was coming off a 106-98 loss at Portland on Friday. Memphis beat Phoenix 106-89 win Friday, the Grizzlies’ fifth win in seven games.