Around the World (Wide Web): Kobe’s Ankle; Bynum’s Performance

Phillip Barnett —  March 14, 2011

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: Kobe Bryant, who sprained his left ankle Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks, has been listed as a game-time decision for Monday night’s game against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. Bryant, who arrived late to the team’s training facility in El Segundo, didn’t practice Sunday, preferring to get treatment instead. “We hope he’ll be able to play,” Jackson said. Bryant declined to talk to the media. Bryant had said after the injury occurred late in the third quarter that it was the scariest ankle sprain of his career.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Kobe Bryant managed to walk slowly out of American Airlines Center, his sprained left ankle taped tightly with what Bryant described as “a baseball” growing on the outside of it from the swelling. Nevertheless, Bryant said of the ankle: “The strength is pretty good.” He said with around-the-clock treatment he would be “fine” — even though Lakers coach Phil Jackson cast some doubt on Bryant’s availability Monday night vs. Orlando when saying Bryant’s injury was “severe.” Bryant also said it felt like the worst ankle sprain he has ever had. Bryant was able to play the last 6:30 of the Lakers’ victory in Dallas on Saturday night after an awkward landing with 2:02 left in the third quarter as he tried to recover a ball in the air. Bryant said of that moment: “I thought I was done … like, done. I was just praying my foot was lined up (when looking at it.)”

From Wondahbap, Silver Screen and Roll: Psssht! Like you didn’t know? Bynum is smashing, the Lakers are rolling, and all of a sudden, the Western Conference looks mighty easy again. His defense and rebounding continue to be the rock that the Lakers have pounded their supposed Western Conference challengers into submission with. The Spurs? Bynum ate up whatever Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili cooked up, he made you think Tim Duncan retired during the game, and the Lakers rolled. They might as well have told San Antonio they can take home-court Advantage and shove it. The Mavs? So much for that length they added. Big Drew beasted for 22 points and 15 rebounds and was clearly the best player on the floor. Think about that. In a game with Kobe, Pau and Dirk Nowitzki, it was Bynum who looked like the unstoppable one?

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Phil Jackson used the words “full strength.” No ambiguity about the context, either. “He’s at full strength now,” the Lakers’ coach said about Andrew Bynum. That’s throwing out quite a bone when it comes to the project the Lakers have grown far more accustomed to being nicked in the knees than giving opponents consistent paddywhacks. Even more than Jackson saying flat-out, “Drew is coming into his own now,” that declaration that Bynum is operating at full power by the coach perennially dissatisfied by his starting center’s energy and stamina (and health) was jarring. Yet that’s how this young man came rolling home Saturday night, acknowledging that his confidence is swelling after having had the road trip of his career:

From ESPN Stats and Info, via TrueHoop: With just six points and 12 rebounds, Kevin Love’s streak of 53 double-doubles came to an end Sunday night in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the Golden State Warriors. It was the first time since Nov. 19 against the Lakers that Love didn’t reach double figures in both points and rebounds. With the streak coming to an end, here’s a look back at what he accomplished: Love put together the longest single-season double-double streak since the NBA/ABA merger (1976-77). He fell just two games shy of tying Elvin Hayes for the longest such streak over the past 40 seasons. Over the 53-game stretch Love averaged 21.8 points per game to go along with 16.3 rebounds per game. He had three games in which he scored at least 30 points and recorded at least 20 rebounds. Only one other player in the past 10 seasons has had even three such games in a single season, and that was Kevin Garnett, also with the Timberwolves, in 2002-03. (Note: Love had one such game before the streak began, giving him four total this season)

From Ethan Sherwood-Strauss, Hoops Speak: Bryant’s gifts are his own, the media did not spawn this multi-faceted arsenal. Only the genius from within could become that artist who flings shots, without warning, from all angles—in the way a tornado hurls cows. The media can however, influence Bryant’s brand, how we see him, and how he strives to be seen. I couldn’t help but suspect our imprint upon reading coverage of Kobe’s postgame workout. Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register tweeted: “In more than a decade covering Kobe, I haven’t seen him do this before.” So the action is abnormal, even if it is agenda-free.

UPDATE: From Matt Moore, Pro Basketball Talk: This game can be used as a seminal moment for the Lakers, snapping back from a disappointing loss in Miami, proving that they still have the Mavs’ number after some regular season struggles, and showing they are still on track to reach the Finals. It can be used to illustrate that although Dallas is talented and experienced, and blessed with tremendous depth down low, it may not be enough thanks to the talent gap in the paint.

But really, if you want to know what this game meant? It’s “the moment” for Andrew Bynum. There have been flashes along the way. Signs. Huge games, bigger than this one. Moments where Bynum was the difference maker, the extra piece, the X-factor, other cliches. This wasn’t the biggest game of Bynum’s career, far from it. But the other games for him were proof of what he could do, what he was capable of, what was possible with him.

Phillip Barnett