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Andrew Bynum Expected To Return To Lakers...Eventually

When the Los Angeles Lakers started this season 13-2, the pending return of Andrew Bynum wasn't seen as such a big deal. However, now that the Lakers have lost five of their last eight, the focus has shifted back to just when their center would be ready to play. However, Bynum's anticipated return to the Lakers is still undecided.

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The center was expected to play Tuesday night in Washington, but Phil Jackson wants Bynum to make it through a full practice first, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Turner said the Lakers practice Saturday in New York was canceled because of a two-hour bus ride, and that Monday's practice will be cut short due to a scheduled meeting with President Obama.

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While it seems at this point the return of Bynum might be more myth than reality, he is expected to play at some point this week. I'm sure Pau Gasol and his career-high 39.2 minutes per game will appreciate the help down low. After playing 40 minutes just 20 times all of last season, Gasol has logged 40 or more minutes in 12 of 23 games so far this season.

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The Lakers, who are first in the league in offensive efficiency (113.5 points per 100 possessions), rank 10th in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 105.1 points per 100 possessions. Last year, the Lakers were fourth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, while 11th in offensive efficiency. The hope is that the return of Bynum will improve the defense, and the new and improved bench (especially with Lamar Odom leading the second unit) will help offset any loss of offense.

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For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.