DENVER — Andrew Bynum is promising he'll be on time and on target tonight.
The Los Angeles Lakers center acknowledged Saturday that he wasn't ready for Game 3 at Denver, when he was held scoreless in the first half of a 99-84 loss to the youthful Nuggets.
Bynum has much more responsibility in the L.A.'s offense this season, so the Lakers' 7-foot center works long and hard before games on his footwork and balance.
He said he had to cut short that pregame preparation Friday night after arriving late to the arena.
"Yesterday we did a little bit of it, but like I said, I got there a little late, so I didn't have as much time as I needed," Bynum said.
"For what it's worth, I'm going to go and be ready for tomorrow's game," he added.
Bynum didn't say what led to his tardiness, but he also acknowledged he was bothered by the altitude as the Nuggets raced out to a 24-point lead on their way to a 55-39 halftime advantage.
Befuddled by Denver's double teams, Bynum took just three shots in the first half before bouncing back to score 18 points and pull down a dozen rebounds. However, he and Pau Gasol were outrebounded by Denver's young duo of Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee 30-19.
Asked Saturday how the Nuggets were able to take him out of his game in the first half, Bynum said, "I took myself out," adding he was "maybe just not ready to play."
He said he'll get to the Pepsi Center "a little early, probably" tonight and "get adjusted to the altitude prior to the game."
Although Bynum was 5 for 8 from the floor and 8 of 8 from the stripe in the second half, his poor performance in the first half helped put the Lakers in a hole they couldn't climb out of.
"You hope at this time of the season everyone who steps on the floor is ready," said Lakers coach Mike Brown, who put Bynum's slow start among a long list of things that frustrated him.
Asked if Bynum drives him crazy, Brown said, "I think at one point or another everybody on the team drives me crazy just like I'm sure I drive them crazy."
With so much of the offense running through Bynum now, it was surprising to hear him admit he was tardy and not ready for a playoff game.
"He's extremely open and honest with you guys," Kobe Bryant told a group of reporters gathered at the team hotel Saturday. "I'm sure you guys appreciate that."
Bryant said he wasn't angered by Bynum's admission.
"No, the first step to improving as a player is admitting to yourself that you've done something wrong and (knowing) how to correct that," Bryant said. "I do the same thing, too. I just don't tell you guys."
But not being ready for a playoff game?
"No, I'm always ready. I'm always ready," Bryant said. "But there's some mistakes that I make" that he doesn't share with the public.
Pressed if he thought it was disconcerting to hear that Bynum wasn't ready for a playoff game, Bryant said: "Yeah, I mean, hopefully you guys will stick it to him good enough to where it sinks in for him."
Bryant said Bynum is still learning how to handle himself in the playoffs while being targeted with a steady diet of double teams.
"It's a process for him because he's never had to see these types of coverages in the postseason, teams mix up coverages, mix up looks," Bryant said. "I think it's good for him. I try to throw the ball into him as much as I can so he can constantly work on that, get better at it. If we're fortunate enough to advance to the next rounds, he's going to be seeing a lot more of that, so it's important for him to really be efficient."
NOAH DOUBTFUL: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says forward Joakim Noah is doubtful for Game 4 on today against the 76ers because of a sprained ankle.
Noah got hurt midway through the third quarter of Friday night's loss at Philadelphia. He stepped on Andre Iguodala's foot driving the lane and crashed to the court. Noah instantly grabbed his left ankle in pain, though he returned to shoot free throws after a timeout. He also played briefly in the fourth quarter, before leaving the arena on crutches.
The eighth-seeded Sixers lead the series 2-1, winning both games after reigning Bulls star Derrick Rose tore a knee ligament and went down for the season.
DOCTOR SHAQ: Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal is a doctor now.
O'Neal received his doctoral degree in education from Barry University alongside 1,100 other students during commencement ceremonies Saturday.
The Miami Herald reports that O'Neal got on one knee so the chair of Barry's organizational learning and leadership program could drape a light blue hood around O'Neal's more-than-7-foot frame.
O'Neal then high-fived other graduates as he made his way back to his seat along with his manager, Cynthia Atterberry, who also received a doctorate in education.
Chicago at Philadelphia,
11 a.m., ABC
Miami at New York,
1:30 p.m., ABC
Atlanta at Boston, 5 p.m., TNT
L.A. Lakers at Denver,
7:30 p.m. TNT
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