Lakers/Nets: A Familiar Finish (In More Ways Than One)

Darius Soriano —  April 3, 2012

As the last two games have shown, winnable games don’t always come easy and the Lakers can’t take their opponent lightly tonight. As mentioned earlier, they’ve been playing pretty well lately and have a Laker killer (Wallace) and an elite player (Williams) of their own that can turn a game in their favor down the stretch of a close game. Making sure it’s not close down the stretch should be the objective tonight.

Seems as though the Lakers have gotten good at trolling me. The above paragraph was from today’s game preview and if all I did was tell you that exactly what I didn’t want to happen did happen that’d probably be enough of a recap and we could all move on. Instead, here are five observations from the Lakers 91-87 win over the Nets:

  1. Pau Gasol still looks good as a primary big man scoring option. The big Spaniard finished the night with 22 points on 11 for 20 shooting, doing a most of his damage right at the basket with 16 of his shots (and 9 of his makes) coming in the restricted area. He showed he could still do damage as a post up option (his running hook in the 1st quarter and his quick spin move for a dunk in the 3rd quarter were both tremendous) and that he’s quite comfortable carving out space in the paint and finishing with finesse and power after making smart cuts and subtle moves into the creases of the defense. Pau’s aggression was a nice reminder – even against a Nets team that struggles on D – that he can anchor the interior with his ability to get buckets through aggressive play.
  2. Ramon Sessions can really, really thread the needle on his passes. On multiple occasions he made bullet passes to diving big men and slashing wings and did so through stacks of defenders. On one particular play he it a cutting McRoberts with a pass that seemed to cut through three Nets players but with Josh caught in traffic he touch passed the ball out to Blake in the corner who ended up missing a corner three. Sessions successes were numerous however, as he tallied 11 dimes on several passes that had no business getting through the defense and a few others that showed off his skill as a playmaker where he drew a crowd and timed the pass perfectly to a cutting teammate for the easy score. It’s been a long time since the Lakers had a PG that made it so obvious he could see the game a second ahead the way that Ramon does but with him on the team you remember what it’s like to cheer on such a player. By the way, he can score too. He finished the night with 19 points on 15 shots and made all 5 of his FT’s on the night too. I’ve said this multiple times before but his ability to change speeds and then explode into his defender to create contact and earn the whistle is a great tool in his (and the Lakers’) bag as he’s consistently able to help the team get into the bonus and earn free points at the line.
  3.  Deron Williams is really good at basketball. Hate to be so simple here but Williams really is a joy to watch. His work off the dribble and ability to create for himself and his teammates is a level above a lot of other guards in this league. If he didn’t play for a team that was so lacking in finishers he easily could have had double his 6 assists as all too often his pinpoint passes went unrewarded with a Johan Petro missed bunny or a Net inexplicably turning an easy jumper into a contested one by taking an extra dribble or hesitating. Down the stretch in the 4th quarter, it looked like he finally realized passing was doing him no good and he started hunting his own shot and the results were brilliant. He hit 3 of his 5 shots in the period, including 2 of his 3 three pointers and a slick step back two point jumper where he put Matt Barnes on skates after a crossover, to help bring the Nets back to within a single point with under a minute to go. He finished the night 20 points (on 15 shots) and while his team fell short, it had little to do with him.
  4. As mentioned at the top of this post, the Lakers continue to be a team that allow games that aren’t that competitive get too close for comfort. Their 16 turnovers were part of the problem. Their inability to stick with what was working and make in game adjustments were another issue. A prime example was how the Nets aggressive double teams took them out of their offensive flow in the 2nd half and led to forced shots and broken sets that couldn’t produce enough points. The Lakers only scored 33 points (on 43 shots) in the final 24 minutes and most of it was because their execution suffered in the face of a ramped up defense that forced them to make quick, smart decisions. Only they couldn’t pull it off.
  5. Kobe Bryant’s still able to be Kobe Bryant. It  was only a few days ago that Kobe was having horrid shooting nights against average defenders while looking totally fatigued. In the past two games he’s been much better with tonight showing he could still get it done against a strong individual defender. Gerald Wallace checked Kobe a lot tonight, but Bean made it look easy on multiple possessions using his triple threat game to free him up for his jumper and for escapes into the paint. His 24 points were a game high and in the final minute and a half he was as cold blooded as ever knocking down the only two shots he took all quarter. The first was a tie breaking 21 footer from the left wing with hand in his face. The second was the dagger three pointer with under 10 seconds left that pushed his team’s one point lead to four that became the final margin. The great thing about the three pointer was the set up, though. The Lakers were inbounding under their own hoop with less than 3 seconds to get a shot up. On the play, Kobe was set up under the rim and then went and set a back screen and ultimately flashed to the ball. When he found his path cut off, he retreated beyond the top of the key, got a great screen from Pau and then made the catch about 26 feet away from the hoop wide open. He caught the ball, fired away, and we all watched as he got the most shooter’s roll ever before the ball finally fell through. It was a great shot and a great play:

Darius Soriano

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40 responses to Lakers/Nets: A Familiar Finish (In More Ways Than One)

  1. Warren Wee Lim April 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I don’t understand the super-relaxed mode the Lakers play when having leads… its something Mike Brown needs to address.

    Its costing our starters valuable mileage.

  2. Ramon: When was the last time a Lakers PG outplayed (slightly) Deron Williams. It’s a whole new world my friends.

    Gasol: On one on one spots Pau Gasol played great 9 feet away from the hoop but not very good under the basket. All but one of his baskets near the rim came off of Ramon passes for wide open dunks. He got his shy blocked a couple times in the low post and couldn’t hit his normal 18 footer with any regularity. If Gasol was hot from the outside this could have been a 40 point night.

    Kobe: He had his best game of the year all Jer the court. He played off the ball fabulously and made the Nets pay in ISO situations to the point he was getting double teamed like the good old days. If teams have to double Kobe nobody can beat us.

    McBob: If he was Jordan Hill we would have won by 18. Lots of energy and hustle… But I’ll quote Jon Wooden “never mistake activity for achievement. “

  3. anti Dwyer Abbott April 4, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I do not know what’s black or white,all I know is Kobe is legendary.
    Hate on my friends,hate on..

  4. That ball had the footwork of Kobe Bryant.

  5. Before the game I said Steve Blake should only be a SG saying at all times he needed to be in the floor with Ramon or Kobe and let Kobe play PG. maybe Mike Brown is startig to read me on here…

    @KevinDing: Instant recap of Lakers’ W over NJ with new rotation featuring Bryant or Sessions playing at all times: http://t.co/DNKttZdy

  6. Kobe’s 1st shots were off ball actions that got him in a rhythm for the rest of the game. Pau seemed to tire down the stretch and not having a legit 3 pt threat when they double Kobe on the catch hurt too. Kobe made the right play all game made the pass 1 sec early and not 1 sec late.

    Would love to see Brown take Kobe out at the 2 min mark of the 1st and 3rd. He takes him out under 1 min that’s seems pointless.

    That 3 pointer was epic by Kobe but the step back long 2 over Deron his FG before was insane.

  7. Aaron,

    Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. But in the non-starting lineups where either bryant or sessions are featured as ball-handlers, it would be nice for blake and MWP to work more in the mid-range than only spot up threes. Make the offense a little less predictable (which is one of the reasons why we’re getting stifled in late game situations).

  8. Is it me, or do the Lakers look like they have more fun when Bynum isn’t around.

    That’s a bad sign for a player that going to try to hold the franchise hostage after this year because of the dearth of 7 footers in the league…. Sigh.

    Oh, and for those whining that Jordan Hill isn’t playing – it seems he has a slight MCL injury.
    – That would make the most sense as to why he hasn’t really seen any minutes at all.

    Really wish Brown wouldn’t play Pau entire 2nd half’s – he was completely gassed with 4 minutes to go and both the defense and offense suffered for it.

  9. Kevin from prior thread:

    Kobe’s pout fests from the past are well documented.

    It seems that after a few seasons of playing second fiddle behind a superstar who feels automatically entitled based on prior accomplishment starts to grate on a player.

    Kobe seems to understand what’s going on with Bynum better than anyone else.

    I don’t agree with the off court antics in terms of disrespecting others but if anyone was making comparisons, it’s pretty clear Kobe’s off the court issues during those similar years would completely eclipse anything Bynum has done at this stage.

    So if we just make it about basketball, isn’t it fair to say that Bynum has played in the shadow of these guys long enough? I mean how long is he supposed to pay his dues.

    You realize if Lamar was still here, not to mention Phil, it’s completely possible he would still be stealing playing time from Bynum as opposed to Gasol which would be completely ridiculous and totally dissing Bynum at this point.

    Injuries or not, the kid has paid his dues. When the horn sounded for the playoffs those two years he was injured, Andrew showed up and played through both the Orlando series and the Boston series.

    He needs to grow up like Kobe needed to grow up. One way to do that is for the Lakers to stop treating his presence here like he’s somebody’s little brother. After seven years that’s finished.

    So going crazy because he wants to show us he can shoot the ball from the outside when seemingly no one has a problem when Kobe jacks the joint irresponsibly or Pau decides he’s a three point shooter all of a sudden this season, seems like an over reaction by Mike Brown of epic proportions.

    As far as missing a F2F with Kupchek, who knows what sits behind that? Maybe Bynum is tired of being lectured by an organization that views him one way and it’s other stars another.

    Maybe it would be more effective if Kobe and Pau sat down with him.

    My take watching Kobe answer questions regarding Andrew is that they aren’t particularly concerned about what’s going on with him at this moment.

  10. Cdog,

    Is it because Bynum wasn’t around, or was it because they were playing one of the worst teams in the league at home. They were in cruise control most of the night. I doubt the game would have been as fun if it were Miami, OKC, or Chicago Bynum or no Bynum.

  11. #9, Dave, you & I are on the same page pertaining to Bynum. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    #8, dog, yeah, it’s just you.

    #3, A D A, this game gave you an idea just how effective Kobe can still be when he allows his point guard to do his job. Fantastic field goal attempt balance from their top 3 scorers last night. Gasol took 20 shots, Kobe, 16, and Sessions 15.

    Big off-season question pertaining to Sessions: Do we keep him as the starter, or attempt to upgrade with free agent D-Will (perfect point guard for the Lakers starters as currently configured) while sliding Sessions to the 2nd unit?

    I’m drooling at the possibilities. Lakers would have the best one two punch at the point in the league & Kobe in the backcourt to team with Bynum & Gasol in the frontcourt.

    And before you guys start talking about salary cap issues & unmovable players, who would have dreamt Fisher, Walton, & Odom would be moved the way they were…you just never know :-)

  12. Come on CDog, making Bynum out to be Dr. Evil and nobody likes him is a little much. Teammates probably dislikes some of the things he does, nobody is perfect, but I willing to bet my last paycheck that everybody knows that in order for them to be a contender they need him.

  13. Enough excuses for Andrew Bynum.

    He’s in, what, his eighth year in the league? He has one, repeat ONE, All-Star nomination.

    As a Center.

    In today’s league.

    Let that sink in. In a league that has less pure centers than I have fingers on one hand, he has only gotten to the All-Star game one time and that is this year.

    Prior to that, he has not yet managed to be even the 3rd best player on a championship team. Let that sink in. His best accomplishment, team accomplishment, to date has been to be the team’s 4th best player when they won a title.

    He has earned nothing. Zero. Zilch. Zippo. He has paid no dues.

    If anything, he has been given the world. The backing of the owner’s son for years, support through numerous injuries, the mentoring of the league’s all-time leading scorer, a huge contract based on potential and the chance to be coached by the greatest coach in NBA history.

    And what has he given in return?

    1. Parking in handicapped spots
    2. Shaqesque “I’ll heal on company time after I’m done going to see the World Cup”
    3. Playboy bunny lifting while injured and rehabbing
    4. “I’m going to keep shooting 3s no matter what the coach says”
    5. Loafing during games by his own admission
    6. Things like the Barea elbow on the court

    This is not Kobe Bryant. Kobe was a champion and shared co-best player honors with Shaq for years. Kobe adjusted his game to accommodate Shaq and criticized only that he was working his tail off when Shaq frequently was out of shape.

    Kobe EARNED the right to complain or cause problems.

  14. One last thing:

    This is not people going nuts because of one isolated thing like that three pointer.

    This is the result of Bynum being a knucklehead time and time again.

    In my list above I didn’t even mention things like getting tossed from a game and high fiving and smiling on the way out and then saying that he had no responsibility for the loss.

    He has no accountability for his own actions and does not think about the good of the team.

  15. Dave,
    As i wrote in the last thread… One should make sure they are on the right side of a debate before squaring off against you. Haha. That wasn’t fair for Kevin. The only chance someone has against you is if they are 90 percent or more in the right. Unfortunately Kevin took a posision against you where he was 90′percent in the wrong. Not fair for Kevin. He didn’t have a chance. I guess the best “debaters” usually pick the right side anyways. But yes… As usual you are right. I actually don’t have anything to even add. You hit all the topics.

  16. Kobe purposely made that final three bounce around on the rim to kill more clock…Brilliant!!! ;-)

  17. I think Bynum is not being fined for making an attempt of ill-advised 3pt. shot but more on his behavior in blowing up the meeting with the GM. Well, Bynum is a great player that Laker would not want to miss but there has to be clearing of the air on what are the responsibilities of a player to the team.

    This team is not even close of being great or favored in taking the Championship, yet there so many issues here of: arrogance, selfishness, star complexes and a perception of jealousy too, on who is the favorite child, who is the No.1, taking it easy when having a huge lead? That is not the prescription of a winning team but a sinking vessel because mutiny pervades in the surface or being hatched by disgruntled crew. If they want to win all the way in the playoffs, they should all be in the same page with resolute to play to their best. Another thing, whether MBrown is right or wrong with his game tactics, he’s still the coach of the team. He should be respected and allow him to rule the team. Being a paid professional, they should exert due diligence in performing their contracted job to the best of their ability and within the confines of rules that was handed to them.

    Now when and if a star player becomes a Coach like Byron Scott, an Owner like Magic J. or a GM like Mitch K. they can now dictate what they want to happen and how should it be done? If he fails with his plan, he has that huge responsibility to paying fans, to its advertisers and to stockholders. I will restate the duty of the player – that he’s under contract with a hefty fee so he is now answerable to the people who hired him because it is specified in his contract.

    Amen.

  18. Dave,
    Okay. I will add some thing. Haha. You said Kobe doesn’t mind what’s going on with Drew by his comments… It’s more than that. I’ll take it a step further. By his comments he is basically directly saying he likes this brash, cocky kid. He likes this defiance. He likes the “chip on his shoulder.” This is a zen/Buddhist way of looking at Bynum. Phil Jackson once said, re Kobe his rookie year when his veteran teammates were sick of Kobe going 110 percent at all times while jacking up shots, “Sorry, I won’t take away that motor. I don’t want to stop him from attacking all the time amd playing a hundred percent. I’ll deal with the bad shots. ” That’s the same approach Kobe says he has with Bynum. He likes this young seven footer wanting the ball all the time. He likes him spreading his wings and jacking up threes. He likes him getting kicked out of games. He likes him decking players to the floor. When he said Mike Brown doesmt know how to handle a player of Bynums caliber he meant it. But he also meant Phil Jackson and Kobe do know now. To be honest I think Kobe can be an historically great coach. He works hard and is truly a smart human being. He thinks outside the box. He could be the first great player to be a great coach. 1/3 of that is Tex, 1/3 of that is Phil, and the rest is Kobe. I hope for basketballs sake he decides to get into coaching.

  19. Aaron, Dave,

    I think that Kobe received a TON of criticism when he pulled his early day antics. I mean non-stop criticism flooding ESPN’s newswire. Moreover, I think that many of us at some point or other have started to appreciate Kobe’s growing maturity and leadership on the team (mentoring players, saying the right things, calling team meetings, etc.).

    Moving on to Bynum: his attitude has not been particularly promising going into the stretch run of our season, and it seems like willful ignorance to downplay the warning signs of these last few weeks. Dismissing prima donnisms as a natural part of a player’s ascension is convenient. But this is a time when we need the team to pull together. Brown has several years left on his contract, and we’re (hopefully) in the middle of a run at the championship. Save this drama for the off-season. I hope its not a big deal, but these things can have a hand in poisoning player-player, player-coach, and team-coach dynamics.

  20. Cdog: sure looked that way to me.

    Dave: Somehow it all gets back to Kobe. Kobe seems to be the scapegoat for locker room problems and Bynum’s years and years of immaturity. How does this always get back to Kobe. he’s showing support for Drew ALL year. He said he’s the second option on the team, He’s calling up game winning shots for him, Publicly backing him after the 3pt shot (Pau said that’s not his game which we all know it isn’t). Everyone is doing everything they can to show how better Bynum has gotten and how important he is to this team but he can’t play hard. Can’t believe your dismissing when a guy who actually dissed his boss by not showing up for a scheduled meeting. Had Kobe done that I’m sure your opinion would be different.

    How has Bynum paid his dues? 50 games means he’s paid his dues. I said last post he was getting Dwight Howard money before. And the last 4 years and was a bust before this season. You keep bringing up Kobe’s shot selection so after thousands of outstanding performances he still hasn’t paid his dues in your eyes. Bynum is getting the same amount of shots as Dwight howard and he plays with far less skill players. He should be happy he’s in a winning situationand stop cherping and acting like Shaq did 2 years after the 02 title.

    Kobe at 24 he played out of this world every game and never let off court stuff affect his play. What’s wrong with Bynum playing hard all game.

    2 Questions Does Pau hide Bynum’s defencencies? If you put Bynum on the Magic do they make the playoffs?

  21. It seems that Andrew Bynum is becoming another player that inspires polarizing views; that fans are beginning to see him through prisms where he’s either given a lot of rope and his transgressions are mostly dismissed for a variety of reasons or he’s incessantly grilled for his actions.

    Maybe this is the norm for me, but I fall in the middle. The list of things that he can be called out for are real. He’s shown a lack of maturity on a variety of levels, be them off court issues or his recent string of games where he seemed indifferent at best and defiant about the right way to handle himself at worst. Getting his head right seems to be a real issue that must be worked out.

    That said, acting like he hasn’t done anything positive or doesn’t deserve some reprieve from a hailstorm of criticism is also off base. His positive impact on the Lakers this season – and in years past – is real. Even in recent games where he clearly hasn’t been on his best behavior, he’s done plenty of things right that have helped the team. Be it post scoring, solid (if not up to his normal standard) rebounding, and being a deterrent in the paint defensively.

    Also, not to nitpick here, but Jim C’s characterization of Bynum’s surgery in 2010 is *not* the really how things went. He had a partially torn meniscus that required surgery. The normal recovery time for the procedure he was *supposed to have* is about 6 weeks (see Jeremy Lin’s timeline to return to the Knicks this year as a standard example). When the doctors went in to his knee and saw the injury, they decided to repair and reattach the meniscus rather than clip/shave it off. This type of repair requires a longer recovery time but also is better for the long term health of the patient as it doesn’t remove any of the meniscus (which acts like a brake pad for the joints where the knee is). No one saw knew this type of repair was going to happen until it actually happened. Furthermore, when the surgery date was set, it was set at a time so Bynum could relax *some* after the season and go see the World Cup. However when he got back to the states, his doctor pushed the date of the surgery back due to scheduling issues. Again, this shouldn’t have been an issue at all based off the original healing timeline for the planned type of surgery. But, when the procedure changed, the timeline changed and he ended up being out until after the season started.

    As an aside, Bynum gutted out 3 rounds of the playoffs on that bad wheel. He did that for the sake of the team. He easily could have had the surgery at the time of the injury, missed the balance of the playoffs and the Lakers likely don’t win the championship without him. I wouldn’t trade what he did for anything considering the ultimate result of the Lakers winning the 2010 title at the expense of the Celtics. Personally, I think Bynum *deserves* credit for playing through injury. Just like I think he deserves credit for fighting back through all the other injuries that he’s suffered to, you know, become an all-star caliber player. Some guys don’t recover from such things this well. Some guys don’t work as hard to bounce back.

    So, in the end, I think he should be viewed as a player that needs to be appreciated for what he actually provides the team (which is tangible, strong play) while also being held accountable for his actions. Accountable like being benched for shooting a dumb shot so far outside of his role. Accountable like being fined for being immature and blowing off meetings. But not admonished like he’s not a valuable player and asset to the Lakers’ success or portrayed as someone who hasn’t been a contributor to the championships we all like to celebrate. (I should also add that calling Bynum the “4th best player” on a championship team isn’t really an insult when the three players ahead of him were as talented, skilled, and productive as Kobe, Pau, and LO. That’s like saying Rondo was the 4th best Celtic in 2008. Yeah? Okay, but I’ll take it because he was pretty damn good and important too!)

  22. JimC: you are right on everything you said.

    Kobe had his knee drained the same postseason so they both toughed it out.

  23. Actually Bynum is fulfiiling his contractual obligation by playing. Unless he does something that would void his contract then he could average 2 minutes a game and still get paid. Big dude is just tired of being judge by a different set of rules. M. Brown thought that young Drew could be his whipping boy because he knows Pau is to fragile and he wouldnt even think about trying Kobe. Just cause Drew makes millions of dollars doesnt mean he should stand on a silent platform. Im not looking for a saint, monk, or role model, Im looking to be entertained. I dont go to a movie and wonder if the lead actor or actress has been parking in handicapp spaces, blowing off execs, or showing up late for work. Produce on the court and the rest of the extracuricular activity off of should be an afterthought.

  24. Darius,

    Thanks for the response, and you’re right I should have explained a little bit more.

    But I don’t think you can let Bynum off the hook entirely for the surgery. Yes, the doctor postponed the surgery by ten days first, but afterward Bynum postponed it about another month despite his history of being slow to recover and the possibility that there might be more damage than originally thought.

    Kevin Ding covered this well when it happened.

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bynum-267754-season-lakers.html

    And this directly lead to Bynum not being ready for a big chunk of the season and Pau being played tons and tons of minutes at Center last year and wearing down over the course of the season. Cause. Effect.

    Bynum absolutely should have gotten the surgery FIRST and THEN played world traveler. The amount of rest would have been the exact same.

    Yes, he deserved some credit for playing hurt in the playoffs that year, but nobody is fully healthy at that time of the year. And that was the first time he had done anything like it and immediately when he felt he had that credit in the bank, he used it up by delaying the surgery in the offseason.

    Is it a coincidence that the same pattern has shown up this year? Before the trade deadline everyone was convinced that Bynum had finally put it all together, and then afterward he goes back to doing all the things both on and off the court that were so frustrating. That shows someone who is externally motivated and will give you just enough to get by but will go back to being a brat once he’s no longer at risk.

    I’m not saying that Andrew Bynum brings nothing to the table. He IS an All-Star, albeit a first time one, and he is the second best center in the league. But in today’s NBA that is nowhere near the accomplishment that it used to be.

    After a certain point, if Bynum wants to act like a star then he needs to give a star effort on and off the court. That means giving it his all for the full season, not for a few games before the trade deadline and then immediately slacking off, having his rebounding totals cut in half, and messing around after he is no longer in danger of being traded.

    Bynum has the skill and talent to be a franchise player, but being one is as much mental as it is physical. Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter also had that skill and talent, arguably more than Kobe ever had, but they didn’t put in the work that Kobe did.

    And on a personal note, I want to root for players that I can actually like. Doing things like that shot to Barea on the court and the handicap spot parking off the court…well…it makes it hard to root for a guy who does those things, basically acting like a d***, without feeling like a complete d*** myself.

  25. Kareem,
    Dave and I never said he has been mature. We are simply saying this is all so much over blown. The exact same thing Brown and Kibe are saying.

  26. Aaron: Is it fair to say Bynum has checked himself out of 3 games in 2 weeks?

  27. Look, it’s understandable that Bynum wants to be respected more, but I don’t get the timing here. The was featuring him more; he was getting a lot more shots and touches, Kobe was more willing to give him the ball in crunch time for a game winner, etc. Who knows what’s going on on the inside of the team’s operations, but it’s hard to see why Bynum would let dumb little stuff like the three-pointer benching bother him when the overall context is that he’s being given a bigger role. Kobe got benched too and he refused to make a big deal out of it, refused to feed the media fire.

    I definitely sympathize with Bynum when Kobe shoots over twenty shots and makes eight or so and Bynum (and Pau) are left with shot attempts in the low teens and shooting percentages in the sixties or seventies. But overall Bynum’s been given a chance to shine some more. It’s not the time to get petty, it’s the time to keep dominating when you get the chance and force the team to feature you more.

  28. Darius,

    Dead on. How many other players check out for extended games on injuries that Bynum and Bryant have gutted out and played through the pain? Those claiming Bynum has been a bust or lazy are not recalling his progression and hard work that he put in pre- and post-injuries. He didn’t come into the league with footwork. He was a monster the 20 games before tearing up his knee and causing the Lakers to seek out Gasol.

    The Lakers would have at least one less title regarding the series with Boston. He was just an extra body to throw against Howard during the Orlando but those minutes were minutes Gasol could rest up. Sascha, Luke, etc all earned those rings and it’s disingenuous to downplay a player’s hard work just because he’s presently acting like an ass.

    There are plenty of things I’d like to see differently from Bynum and many other players. Drama or not, I want to see these Lakers shock the NBA and win it all… despite my opinions on Brown’s coaching, Bynum’s magic 8-ball mood/hustle swings or Pau’s swans…

  29. People don’t understand Bynum improved every year while recovering from injury. I agree with Darius and other posters, if Bynum did not play in game 3, Boston came back and beat Lakers in the second half, Pierce said that he is not going back to LA because Boston think they would win game 3,4,5 in Boston.

    Kobe knew Bynum more than anybody else when he said that Bynum wants to expand his game. Does he want to shoot like Kevin Love ? Maybe, or he wants to try if he can score 50pts in a game,…People said that young players now don’t want to play under basket any more,so maybe Bynum is the last true center. Phil once said the big guy becomes a man around 28 years old, cool down, enjoy the ride.

  30. Sometimes we Laker fans really live up to the stereotypes. This Bynum as the villain narrative fits the cartoon like view of our team Laker fans are known for. Just this season alone our rotating roster of bad guys/villains has been made up of Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Derek Fisher, Mike Brown, and now Andrew Bynum. Of course, Kobe was Dr. Evil for awhile until his recent efficiency outburst. Now he is our golden child again.

    We Laker fans sometimes suffer from delusions of grander about our team. We also suffer from an inability to accurate assess the quality of our team. They are not a championship caliber team. The can make noise in the playoffs if multiple things break in their favor. They could also crash and burn in the first round depending on how they finish off the regular season and who their first round opponent is. Now amount of harping on Andrew Bynum’s parking tickets or Kobe Bryant’s divorce is going to change their on court reality.

    Andrew Bynum is not going to hustle hard on every play. On some nights Kobe Bryant will take close to 30 shots hitting only 10 of them. Pau Gasol will never develop a Kevin McHale-style nastiness on the block. Jim Buss will never be Jerry Buss. And Mike Brown is just not going to play Andrew Goudlock or Devin Ebanks. It is what it is. It’s still my team. I still love the Lakers. And I will still watch.

  31. Bynum has been a source of annoyance for his repeated immature acts, for sure. Only recently have those acts had an impact on the court (aside from the Barea forearm shiver, but that game, and series, was over), and they’re happening while he’s coming into his own as the player we’d all hoped he’d become. He’s testing the team, the coach, and management to see how far he can go, and the team’s taking steps to remind him that while he’s the star, they’re still in charge.

    Perhaps being on a team with Kobe, who is allowed to be Kobe, has been a bad influence. Perhaps the absence of Fisher has something to do with it. Perhaps he’s still a kid coming into his own and doesn’t realize that his stupid actions create ripples around himself and affect the team. Maybe he likes being a big, famous center of the league’s splashiest franchise and all the attendant glory. He’s been given a ride thus far because of his talent (and the scarcity of similar talent around the league), and discipline has come slowly due to a new coach (who, it’s debatable, was being undermined earlier this season) and an ownership/management in flux. In my opinion, the coach, the ownership, the management, and the team should all come down on him. Hard. Fines he can laugh off, meetings with the GM he can blow off. But if he’s benched for long periods, and is frozen out when he does see the court, perhaps he’ll get the idea that getting along with his boss and co-workers is probably a good idea.

    Really, all Mitch needs to do is float a few trade rumors to, say, Milwaukee over the summer and I think he’d probably figure out that it’s better to be the third banana in LA than the big dog in a town the NBA forgot. But I hope that the veterans do sit him down and set him straight, as they’re the only ones likely to really get through to him.

    The ironic part is this past year has been Andrew’s coming-out party. His first few years in the league I’d say to friends “I wish someone would tell Bynum that KG kicked his dog right before tipoff so he’d get out there and dominate like he’s able to”. He was actually too nice and too deferential for years, and now that he’s playing like a man with something to prove, he’s acting like a spoiled little boy.

    I have enough faith in the organization that someone will be able to get through to him, but I don’t know if it’s already too late. As the Derrick Colemans and Vince Carters of years past have shown us, you can get by in this league for years trying half-hard if you have enough talent. I hope he’s not another of this type.

  32. Jim,
    The article you cited only mentioned the doctor’s postponement and Bynum’s decision to have the surgery after he came back from the World Cup. I didn’t see the part about him postponing it “an additional month”. Maybe you’re referencing him planning the surgery for a month after the season ended?

    Anyways, we can agree to disagree here and I’m fine with that. But, I will add that I think your assertion that not everyone is “fully healthy” is pointed but not applicable to situations like Bynum’s or Kobe’s (both required surgery following that campaign). I give Kobe credit the same way I give Bynum credit. As an aside, you know when Kobe had his surgery that same off-season? The same week Bynum’s was originally planned for. You know what he did after the season ended? He went to the World Cup and took time off to recuperate before going under the knife.

    The only difference was that Bynum’s surgery *changed when he was under the knife*. That’s my only point. Ding doesn’t acknowledge that in the article you linked, but Medina does in this LA Times piece:

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2010/09/criticism-regarding-andrew-bynums-surgery-is-understandable-but-misguided.html

    I’m not here to defend Bynum. As I stated in my earlier comment, I think his petulance needs to be addressed and I think the Lakers are going a good job of doing so. His coach has benched him. His front office has fined him. When asked to elaborate on these things, they haven’t fueled the fire and instead have said they’re handling things internally. I see nothing wrong with this approach while still acknowledging that Bynum’s transgressions are concerning.

    As an aside, I understand wanting to root for players that you like. And, I understand that Bynum can be unlikable. However, I think being unlikable fuels the type of criticism you’re sending his way. I also think the same can be said for a lot of fans critiques of players these days. Fans don’t like player X so they speak harshly about their games and their contributions and see their transgressions through a harsh light indicative of their contempt. Not saying this is right or wrong, but it’s not my approach.

  33. Sure, Bynum is fulfilling his contractual obligation by playing. But as an employee aren’t you supposed to listen and show respect to your boss (Coach Brown), whether you like him personally or not? Jacking up a 3 when he doesn’t even have a proven midrange game and then compounding the problem by saying “I got benched for the 3, but I’m still gonna take them”. That’s a total lack of respect for his boss.

    Then blowing off a face to face meeting with the GM? Again, total lack of respect for the even bigger boss. 99% of the working population would be instantly fired for something like that.

    I could live with all of the off court stuff, most of us would deem it funny even. But when he is not producing on the court like he should be, the off court stuff looks much worse. Then he’s been compounding those problems with his quotes i.e. I need to get my numbers, I don’t take part in huddles, I’m going to keep shooting 3s, etc.

    True, he’s been beasting this season offensively, because he’s been getting the touches in order to do so. But if anyone thinks he’s doing his job on the defensive end, kindly go watch highlights of the 17-1 stretch post all-star game last season. That was all about effort and desire. He has the footwork, the smarts, the height and the strength to be a game changer on that end of the floor. Lately he hasn’t even come close to that defensive monster that we need him to be. Kobe is our offensive anchor, Bynum is supposed to be our defensive anchor. So, no, he isn’t doing his job. The job he gets paid 16 million a year to do.

  34. T. Rogers,

    It appears that Bynum is vilified by fans but if you consider the positive spin of it, it is a rude awakening that there is a smoke somewhere and possibly resulting to a huge fire if not attended. I think they’re constructive criticisms delivered with insightful remarks to merit attention. We all want Lakers to win but you can’t just say “OK, we’ll just go with what pleases you. We are all blind fanatics.” Tolerate blow up some leads, ignore the coach, the gm and instigate intrigues to the media, relax while playing or turn on the switch during playoffs etc. As passionate fans in the blog, we have an obligation to participate by expressing what is good for the team and from that survey of fans feedback, hopefully, they could pick up some words of wisdom and treat others as thoughtful germs/viruses.

  35. So when Kobe was outwardly critical of the FO and called out his teammates and Mitch and others demanding trades and the like, the answer for him should have been what?

    No tolerance? No willingness to work through any of his issues with him?

    When Kobe tossed away the Detroit series by insisting on doing everything his way at the expense of the team driving the final stake into the heart of the Shaq / Kobe era, the answer should have been what?

    Dump the ungrateful bum?

    Just a couple of weeks ago Bynum was named NBA player of the week for the western conference on the heels of some very impressive offensive performances. I guess some have forgotten because nobody has mentioned that here.

    Then he’s expected to just quietly accept some of the absolutely abysmal recent performances of Kobe and Pau that have led to discouraging losses?

    How is Andrew’s frustration any different than the frustration that Kobe outwardly expressed towards Shaq’s poor conditioning and accompanying attitude of “I can do whatever I want here because I’m the man and you’re not”.

    The reason Kobe is tolerant of Bynum is because Kobe knows he was on the receiving end of it and he didn’t like it one bit and reacted just like Bynum is reacting now.

    Bynum is saying….

    “The heck with all of them. I’m going to start doing things the way I want to do them until everyone is held to the same reasonable standard and forced to be on the same page.”

    I’m not defending the actions as much as I’m saying that I understand his frustration level with this team not playing the way they’re supposed to play or are capable of playing.

    And I think Bynum’s play has earned him the right to complain about the poor performance of other players including Kobe if he wants to.

  36. As with all things sports, sometimes its valuable to employ an analogy to put our dilemmas in perspective.

    According to the National Highway Safety Administration, at least 8 percent of Americans have admitted to drinking and driving in the last year. One in eleven ADMITTED to this socially unacceptable and totally illegal practice. Sure, Bynum parked in a handicap spot, but chances are, some of us criticizing him have broken laws, some of which carry a lot more valence than Bynum’s infraction. We all like to throw our arms up, but if we were under the microscope like these personalities are every moment, we would squirm like worms under the knife.

  37. Dave: Bynum has played at this level for 50 games. Lamar has had to make up for him for 5 years and done a good job at it. Bynum is playing better than ever getting more touches than ever he should keep playing for his teammates instead of a contract. That’s what happening he needs numbers to get a max deal so that’s what he’s playing for. “I need my numbers”. How about getting to the foul line Drew for the 2nd best center 5 times a game isn’t enough.

    Bynum doesn’t have the right to complain about someone’s bad play. Kobe, Pau, Odom have picked up his slack for years. Kobe was in his prime rooting on a bad team for 3 years before finally exploding. Bynum is playing with HOFers and is complaining. 2 different situations.

    That Knicks game against Lin Bynum played horrible, same vs Toronto when Magloire locked him down. Nobody said anything because they knew he’d come back and play well. Same should be done for Kobe and Pau.

    Kobe shots since Sessions 21 ( would be less had no Bynum kicked himself out of 3 games). Barnes, Ron, Sessions shots are up. Kobe isn’t taking his shots there going elsewhere.

    I do hope Bynum turns this corner. But I’m thinking he wants out. Every Laker that has left hasn’t faired well on other teams.

  38. Dave: Kobe and Bynum are two seperate cases. Kobe played/plays hard never cheated the the fans. He wanted MVP in 04 finals but he lost Detroit defense did a number on lakeshow. Kobe played with bums for 3 years in his prime I don’t fault him for wanting a trade. I was surprised i took him 3 years to finally explode.

    Bynum seems more intent on getting paid. “I need my numbers”. He sees a max contract in his future and putting up huge numbers will get him paid. That’s never been Kobe’s M.O. but it was Shaq’s.

    Kobe, Pau, Odom picked up Bynum for the past 4 years while he was hurt and getting paid like a All Star. None of them ever complained they were saying we can’t wait til Drew gets back he makes us a better team. Has Drew earned his contract with his play?

    I hope Drew turns this corner and gets back to playing basketball for the rings and not his numbers/contract. But I think he’s purposely paving the way for his exit because “there’s a bank in every city”.

  39. Kevin: It’s a dangerous practice to confuse effort with result.

    Let’s face it, the fact that Kobe plays hard and as a result accrues enough credit from certain fans to offset his poor play whenever that happens, is more like a rite of passage than a balanced assessment of performance.

    Add to that the fact that “Big Men” in basketball have notoriously received a bad rap for dogged efforts every since 7 footers arrived on the scene in the early sixties. From Wilt to Kareem to Shaq and now Bynum, sure we remember them with a certain fondness now, but none of those guys escaped what was in large part, undeserved criticism of their performance when you consider what they achieved.

    They’re easy targets because they’re supposed to be invincible. And I hate to remind you of this, but the first thing that always comes up with the fans who don’t like Bynum is his proneness to injury.

    “Why isn’t this guy invincible?” is the whole problem with him apparently.

    It’s all spilled milk though isn’t it? It’s like me complaining about Kobe in the Detroit series.

    But if your expectation is that he should continue to be satisfied playing third fiddle to two players who’s best years are obviously behind them now…….

    Then his frustration is probably justified and I don’t know but what his interest wouldn’t be better served playing somewhere else if the rest of the Lakers feel as you do.

    I hope that isn’t the situation especially now that we’ve seen what a great player he can be.

  40. Darius:

    I completely understand what you’re saying about the self fulfilling prophecy of fans denigrating Laker players.

    I used to despise Kobe’s play.

    Then one day I figured out that the reason was that I kept comparing him to Magic and wondering why he didn’t make the plays that Magic would make in similar situations and the answer was obvious.

    Not fair to Kobe. He’ll never be my favorite Laker because I’ll always hold him to an unfair standard.

    At times he irritates me the same way he used to.

    But he deserves to receive the credit from me as a life long Laker fan for being a great player despite his shortcomings which all great players have.

    I slip back from time to time but mostly I’m at peace over Kobe being a great Laker.