Archives For Andrew Bynum

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los AngelesAndrew Bynum is the Philadelphia 76ers’ to worry about now. The Los Angeles Lakers have quite enough to keep them up at night as Dwight Howard continues to work his way back from offseason back surgery. But with Monday’s news out of Philadelphia that Bynum received another injection of Synvisc — a gel-like substance that sometimes provides relief for inflamed tissue — in his knee, it raises a larger question: Whose problems would you rather be saddled with: Bynum’s chronically painful, injured knees or Howard’s still-unproven back? It was a question Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had to answer over the summer before he made the trade that sent Bynum to Philadelphia in a four-team deal that brought Howard to Los Angeles from Orlando.

From Mark Medina, LA TimesAnytime the Lakers reserves stepped on the floor, an offensive drought ensued. They would cough up leads. They’d go on long stretches without a field goal. The Lakers were left wondering who would lead them out of the darkness. The team believed they had solved that problem by adding 15-year veteran Antawn Jamison, who’s averaged a career 19.5 points both as a starter and a reserve. The Lakers acquired this piece at the veteran’s minimum, no less. Yet through four preseason games, Jamison has hardly provided such scoring punch, averaging only 5.8 points on 27.6% shooting. But the Lakers hardly seem worried.

From Brian Kamenetzky, ESPN Los AngelesMark Stein delivered the news Tuesday afternoon. The original assumption, that CBA rules prevented Derek Fisher’s return to the Lakers until March 15, turns out not to be true. Because Fisher was bought out by the Houston Rockets following last year’s deadline deal before he was eligible to pick up his extension for this year, he’s able to sign wherever he’d like, including with the Lakers. Stein reports at least theoretical interest from both sides, though I’d be almost shocked if it actually happened. Still, for a lot of fans, the lure of Fish is still strong. I get it. This is a Lakers blog. If you need the significance of Derek Fisher explained, I suspect you’re new around here. But strip away the sentimentality, and it becomes clear bringing him back isn’t a good idea.

From Jeff Miller, OC RegisterHe arrived with three names. Kobe Bryant didn’t know any of them. So, for the first couple of days of Lakers training camp, Bryant called him “Rook,” as in rookie, as in maybe you made a name for yourself in college but here you show up as a nobody. You start at name zero. “And then one day it was ‘Odom,’ ” Darius Johnson-Odom says. “The next day it was ‘Johnson-Odom.’ The next day it was ‘D.J.’ So you can kind of feel it. You can kind of feel when you gain their respect.” From the outside looking in, the Lakers have a dynamic collection of big personalities and large talent, a starting five at least 80 percent of which should end up in the Hall of Fame. But what about from the inside looking out? Apparently, the view isn’t much different, especially when you’re still something of an outsider yourself.

From “Basketball Reasons”, Silver Screen & RollWith the talent at hand, hitting the ground running may be as simple as plug and play for Nash and company. However, the level of execution needed to reach the top for the Lakers is going to take time. With the newly implemented Princeton principles still in the infancy stages, the offense is still a work in progress. The cast is still learning the script and defining their roles. The Lakers are reinventing the wheel for one last shot with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, while mustering all the incentive they can dig up for Dwight Howard to stay with the Lakers long term. At the heart of all of this, Nash will have to find a way to balance the flow of the game on his shoulders while it slowly comes together. The ball, and even more importantly, the offense is in his hands.

-Ryan Cole

Box Score: Lakers 98, Spurs 84
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.1, Spurs 94.4
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.5%, Spurs 50.6%

The Lakers faced San Antonio for the first time this season. Kobe was still out. The Spurs rested Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili in the previous game so they would feel more fresh. We kinda joked that the Austin Toros would keep it close against the Lakers, who barely escaped the Hornets’ nest a couple of nights ago. What followed was a complete surprise.

The Good:
Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. THIRTY REBOUNDS IN THE GAME (easily breaking the season high in rebounds of 25 by Dwight Howard and… wait for it… Ersan Ilyasova!). Bynum absolutely owned the paint on both ends. Owned it so much that it felt like the single offensive rebound by the Spurs (yes, they only had ONE) was a pity board. But I suppose the Spurs can feel better that they would’ve outrebounded the Lakers if Bynum wasn’t there. The board count? The Lakers had a 60-33 whoopin’. SIXTY. 16-1 on the offensive boards, by the way. Of course, with Bynum’s domination on the boards, Pau Gasol looks lazy in comparison. Our favorite Spanish forward only had 11 rebounds. SLACKER.

Not only did Andrew Bynum get a career high in rebounds (Darius also noted that Bynum didn’t foul at all in the game!), but Metta World Peace had his best scoring game as a Laker. He scored 26 points and, at one point, made five straight field goals in the 3rd that included a series of fadeaway jumpers. He even made an old-school flat-footed 3-point set shot with the shot clock running down. Metta had smoke coming out of his fingers. I wish that Bill MacDonald knew his NBA Jam terms, though. Three in a row is not heating up, Billy Mac; that’s ON FIRE.

Pau Gasol had a terrible start, shooting-wise, but the Spurs got into even deeper water when Pau started making his jumpers in the 4th quarter. He had 21 points to end the game and, like Bynum, owned the paint as well. It’s just that we can’t appreciate Pau’s performance as much if Bynum (who also had 16 points) was basically being Pac-Man by eating rebounds as if they were ghosts.

Matt Barnes continued his hustle with 13 points, 6 boards, and 4 dimes. He also hit 3 3-pointers in the first half, which got most of us Laker fans afraid that they might depend on that 3 a little too much. But the ball rotation was so good that they had such good looks, we’d get mad if they didn’t take them. Steve Blake finished with 10-3-3 in his second consecutive good game, including a 3 that basically Austin 3:16’d San Antonio and the Laker fans that have been down (to put it kindly) on his game.

The ball movement was quite a sight. They had 23 assists on 40 field goal makes.

And the Lakers were swarming on D, particularly inside the paint. They made Tony Parker shoot difficult shots (2/12) and were getting in the face of most of their shots from inside to the midrange. The Spurs shot 40.7% overall and only scored 41 points after the half. San Antonio couldn’t deal with the Lakers’ size (insert terrible enlargement pills joke here).

Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace should be able to listen to ‘N SYNC or Celine Dion as loud as they want in the locker room the next few nights after their fantastic performances. Steve Blake should’ve given Bynum the ball so he could shoot a 3 (I’m sure you guys noticed how Bynum ‘guarded’ Steve on the final seconds).

This feels like the most complete Laker game this season. Maybe tomorrow, Kobe Bryant will be amnestied.

The Bad:
The Lakers have had trouble covering the perimeter for years now and this is no exception. The Spurs hit 13 treys in the game but that was pretty much the only weapon the Spurs had.

Ramon Sessions (LATE EDIT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) was a little bit out of control even though he still had a decent game. Since the Lakers owned this game, I suppose we can give Sessions a pass with his four turnovers.

The Spurs did a great job fronting the post against the Lakers in the 2nd quarter. The Lakers had trouble with that for a while and if I was a San Antonio fan, I would wonder why they went away from that.

It’d be nice if the Lakers can kick teams while they’re down. When up 23, punch them in the face and go for a 30-point lead. When up 50, kick them in the groin and go for a 60-point lead. When up 127, leave C4s on their backs and go for a 180-point lead. You get the picture.

I’m also the last person to harp on referees (well, Darius might fight me to the death on this one) but the Spurs could Dragon Punch Andrew Bynum in the face and they still wouldn’t call a foul. Maybe they felt sorry for the Spurs.

The Ugly:
Good grief, Boris Diaw is a big boy. Imagine him dancing. Yeah, I thought you would like that image.

The Play Of The Game:
I will take MWP’s flat-footed three-pointer early in the fourth. That’s when you knew that everything was going right. You actually kinda wonder if Kobe’s spirit actually went inside Metta’s body. It was a sight to behold.

In a way, this game makes me angry. You saw how Bynum was so dominant on the glass. You kinda wish he would stop loafing around so he can average around 15 boards a game (30 boards a game?). It’s obviously a bit hard for Bynum to score with no Bean on the court but he has to be patient and not get so frustrated on both ends. Pass it out, repost, rinse, lather, repeat until a good shot comes along from the team. We all assume Bynum’s going to own this team beyond the Kobe Bryant era. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out. He’s a smart kid.

If this was any indication on how well the Lakers can play, the Spurs better know what they’re facing. They’re going to face each other twice more in the season. Of course, Gregg Popovich could just be a total jerk, kill a thousand people, then sit his stars down.

Meanwhile, the Lakers start a three-game homestand on Friday. They draw the Denver Nuggets. Of course, we would like to see the effort and execution they had earlier tonight against Ty Lawson and company. They can’t depend on Danilo Gallinari missed lay-ups and JaVale McGee bloopers that would make him an America’s Funniest Home Videos staple; the Lakers gotta bring it. With or without Kobe.

Enjoy the win. I know my dinner tasted better after that. Even if it was just a measly chicken sandwich.

Box Score: Lakers 107, Rockets 112
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 108.1, Rockets 113.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 58.2%, Rockets 60.3%

Lakers had a four-game winning streak coming into this while the Rockets are fighting for their playoff lives. Also of note? The Rockets won their last meeting against the Lakers. L.A. hoped for a different result but it was more of the same, if anything.

The Good:
This was Metta World Peace’s best offensive game this season. He had 23 points and seemed like one of the few Lakers that had energy the entire game. He was killing the Rockets in the post, had about three nifty left-handed lay-ups, and was even a playmaker at times. Too bad, the effort was wasted.

Matt Barnes didn’t have a great shooting game (1/9 with 3 points) but he did all the other things (13 boards and 4 assists). Keep hustling, Barnes.

I liked that Kobe Bryant didn’t try to have too much of a duel with Chandler Parsons, although I’m sure Parsons irritated him. He scored 28 points and made all 11 of his foul shots. Didn’t do much else but he got his points.

And I did like that the Lakers attacked inside tonight. They had a 36-22 advantage in freethrows and, overall, they scored 56 points in the paint. It probably would’ve been more if a certain center didn’t get ejected earlier tonight. Again.

The Bad:
Another double-digit lead lost. Ho hum.

Maybe it shows in their heavy schedule but most of the Lakers didn’t have the energy tonight, particularly in the first and the third quarters. And it’s only going to get worse because they have another game tomorrow night. But I digress.

Maybe it was also the injuries. Kobe had a bad shin. Ramon Sessions had a bad left shoulder (he clearly had trouble going left tonight). But the defense was non-existent once again… and the Rockets baited them into playing fast at times. It’s fun to see the Lakers convert on some fastbreaks but transition D is not a strength the Lakers have. The Rockets definitely took advantage of that.

Luis Scola went wild with 25 points against the Lakers tonight. He was money no matter who took on him earlier (whether it’s Gasol or Ron… and I’d like to apologize for calling Gasol a non-factor against the Clippers the other night; I was wrong). Goran Dragic went wherever he pleased on the court; he ended up with 26 points and 11 assists.

So what about Andrew Bynum?

I find Bynum’s personality amusing. This is not one of those times. Not getting the calls he wanted and getting shoved by Samuel Dalembert? Yes. Irritating. I don’t blame him for being angry. But at the same time, he’s gotta keep his composure. His second technical where he got called for taunting wasn’t even directed at Dalembert; it was directed at the bench. In a close game where Bynum was needed, he does this once again (against the Rockets once again, yes). He didn’t have the greatest of games, either; he had turned the ball over 5 times. But he was certainly on his way in terms of making a difference. He had 19 points at that point in the game. Keep your composure. Listen to Ace Of Base or whatever you listen to on Club 17 during timeouts. Calm down.

That may have very well cost them the game. But they still had a chance to win. Of course, if they bothered to guard jumpshooters all game long, they wouldn’t have been in this position. Give the Rockets credit for outhustling the Lakers (even if they were outboarded, 48-35).

Yes, the defense once again. 112 points by the Rockets. The Rockets probably likened this game to a 7-11. They were open all day. And probably got extra smoothies on top of it, too.

And Chandler Parsons (13 points, including a big 3 near the end of the game, and a superb job guarding Kobe)? For a rookie, he’s got grapefruits. Props to him.

The Ugly:
Lakers had 13 bench points. Expected. But I didn’t know what else to put under here.

The Play Of The Game:
I don’t have much to choose from, especially after a Laker loss. But you can take your pick between one of the two Josh McRoberts alley-oop dunks. Those did get the crowd going, at least.

Remember the days when the Staples Center was a security blanket for the Lakers? Me, neither. They’ve lost 4 games at home since the trading deadline after only losing 2 before that.

It doesn’t stop for the Lakers. They have Phoenix tomorrow night on the road, where they got plastered earlier in the season. At the end of the road trip, they play the Spurs for the first time this year (a three-game series with the Spurs in 10 days, really). That’s going to be a real test for the Lakers.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They may not even win against Phoenix AND New Orleans. Maybe Andrew Bynum may actually not get ejected in those games. That’s a step towards maturity.

Box Score: Lakers 113, Clippers 108
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 121.5, Clippers 116.1
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.1%, Clippers 54.3%

You can call it a rivalry if you want. But a lot was definitely on the line. Who was going to get a stranglehold on the Pacific Division? The Lakers had won three straight (albeit against weak competition) coming into this game while the Clippers had won six straight, their longest since 1992. Well…

The Good:
Cool beans. Kobe Bryant.

I like the Kobe Bryant of April 2012. Doesn’t try to do too much. He lets the game come to him. He lets the other guys do most of the work. And he only strikes when needed. And, boy, did they need his strike today. His last jumper with Randy Foye draped all over him put them up 4 with 24 seconds left. His line was also efficiency personified. 31-5-6. 13/19 shooting. Only 2 turnovers. That was magnificent. It hit me hard; made me lose my breath.

Andrew Bynum just beat up the Clipper frontline on the offensive end all day. There were times where you can still see him loaf around on defense but I will take his 36 points from 13/20 shooting seven days of the week. It’s like he got the star from Super Mario Brothers; no Clipper could touch him, much less defend him.

Ramon Sessions had a pretty good all-around game, too. He continues to pad the stat sheet with 16 points, 6 boards, 8 assists, and 2 steals. His basket where he tapped on DeAndre Jordan with 47 seconds left was a huge basket as well. Chris Paul had a fantastic game himself but Sessions did his best to keep up. This performance is certainly better than what you’re going to get from previous Laker point guards.

Metta World Peace should also get props for taking on CP3 late when Lakers got caught with a switch on Paul. That little wrinkle prevented the Clippers from doing further damage. MWP also made some key baskets (and that key steal from Paul!) that stopped runs from the Clips. He has come up big this season in terms of making big plays, whether it’s a 3-pointer or a stop.

I also like that they played a relatively clean game on the offensive end. They didn’t get their first turnover until the second quarter and they only ended up with 11.

Big, big win by the Lakers. Clips can have all the highlights that they want but, in the end, it’s about winning. One of the more satisfying Laker victories in this up-and-down season.

The Bad:
Stop switching.

Chris Paul made life hell for the Lakers when he would get the bigs to switch on him. Leaving Paul with either Pau Gasol or Bynum in an island is not the ideal situation for the Lakers. Paul made them pay in those few minutes he got the desired switch. Luckily, Metta recognized it and took on Paul himself down the stretch.

The defense continues to regress for the Lakers. 108 points scored tonight by the Clippers. The Lakers didn’t play intense defense until late in the game. It would’ve been nice if they could force more than 10 turnovers. They certainly couldn’t stop the Clippers in transition. That let the Clippers back into the game. Losing big leads have become a Laker signature as they once again played it down to the wire. Maybe the Lakers should propose to cut the games down to three or even two quarters so that they don’t lose big leads like this.

None of the Lakers got double digits in rebounds (Bynum led the team with 8). The Clippers outrebounded them, 46-44… but killed them on offensive boards, 18-12 (Blake Griffin had 7 offensive boards). Box out, gentlemen. It’s good for your game.

It’s difficult when someone like Caron Butler is making contested shots. But that doesn’t mean you should leave him open also. Butler went off for 28 points (didn’t score in the 4th, though, because Vinny Del Negro chose to sit him out longer than he should… but check out Clipper blogs if you want to break THAT down). Even if he’s making shots, make life difficult for him.

The Ugly:
I didn’t think it was possible for someone to die twice… but Pau Gasol got killed by two Blake Griffin dunks today. The first one was a putback smash in the first quarter and the second one was in the third quarter where Blake just absolutely hammered the manhood out of him. Pau tried his best to play it off like it didn’t bother him but he was really never the same after the second plastering. Gasol was, for the most part, a non-factor with 12 points. Though he had a nice block late in the game (THANKS, JODIAL!).

The Play Of The Game:
I told you. That Kobe shot. I couldn’t even do that on a video game. Well, except maybe if you play AS Kobe in NBA2K12 or NBA Courtside.

Also, Bynum getting the ball under the basket at the end of the 3rd… only for him to back up to the 3-point line and shoot from behind the arc? Hilarious. That would’ve been easily THE play of the game if he made it.

The Lakers are now 2 1/2 games up on the Clippers. It really should be 3 1/2 because they also own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning this game as they win the season series, 2-1. I really do hope they face each other at some point in the playoffs because this game was undoubtedly fun. Right now, I’m going to enjoy this win and not worry about any upcoming drama or games for the next 24 hours. Or few minutes.

If you want to worry about the next Laker game NOW, they’ve got Houston at Staples next. Houston beat them the last time they faced each other. Yeah, the same game where Bynum got ejected and gave high-fives to the people there after the ejection. Now that the Lakers have won four in a row, I’m sure expectations have been tempered once again? Yes? No?

In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy this win. And you should, too. Enjoy it like you just received your very first video game console.

Box Score: Lakers 107, Hornets 101
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 117.6, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.6%, Hornets 57.5%

Lakers go into the tail end of a back-to-back with TIRED legs. They played a double overtime game against Memphis the night before. But no rest for these weary Lakers.

THE GOOD
After a bit of a slow start (well, for most of these Lakers), Kobe Bryant looked like he had control out there. Kobe finished with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was key in that 14-4 run in the 3rd quarter after the Hornets had them down as many as 17 points (for the second consecutive night, the Lakers had to overcome a 17-point deficit on the road). Kobe made some pretty big plays down the stretch. Of course, there were the three freethrows he made to send the game to overtime. And then he made a pretty big throwdown (and the foul) for a three-point play at the start of overtime. And, of course, the two freethrows to put the game away. Sure, he could shoot better than 10 for 23 from the field (but PERFECT in his 11 foul shots) but he, like the rest of the Lakers, never panicked.

And you shouldn’t panic when you have an All-Star center like Andrew Bynum. Darius calls him Altered Beast (I’m sure you guys remember that game, right? No? We must be old then.). This monster finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds (following a fantastic 37/16 effort the night before). Those alley-oops upside your heads from Pau Gasol have become a Laker signature play. I also love that the Lakers now trust him to do damage in the final few minutes of a game. And did you see his quick moves around the basket? Particularly that spin and reverse lay-up against Chris Kaman? I have never seen him move this fast… ever. I wonder which Laker fans want to trade him now after these showings.

Metta World Peace has impeccable timing when it comes to making big plays. He made a 3-pointer late in the 4th quarter. He had an incredible inbounds pass to Kobe for a shot that would’ve won at regulation. In OT, he passed it to an open Derek Fisher that put the Lakers ahead for good. Then he followed it up with a steal and a lay-up that put them up three. Finally, he blocked Chris Kaman near the end of the game when Hornets were desperate for a score. Metta didn’t have incredible statistics (7 points and 3 assists) but he just has that big play ability when you least expect it. You would think his hands were like E. Honda’s 100-Hand Slap from Street Fighter the way he gets his hands on the basketball.

Pau Gasol finished with another double double (18 points and 10 rebounds). Derek Fisher (11 points) hit some big shots. And Matt Barnes finished with 10 points.

The Lakers finished with 24 assists so I really like that they trust each other out there on the court. After a slow start, the Lakers outboarded the Hornets, 44-34 (11-5 on the offensive end). And they really bore down defensively in the 2nd half. L.A held N’Awlins to 16 points (8/19 shooting) in the 3rd quarter. Not counting OT, the Hornets only scored 39 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters combined.

Somehow, the Lakers found their Gummi Berry Juice in that second half.

THE BAD
You can definitely tell the Lakers looked tired early. The Hornets shot above 60 percent in the first half and put the Lakers in a double digit hole. And the reason why Laker fans are clamoring for more point guard help? In the first half, Jarrett Jack made his first 8 shots (his ninth was a 3-pointer that missed) and back-up Greivis Vasquez made his first four. Jarrett Jack eventually finished with 30 points (even though it did get tougher for him in the 2nd half) with Vasquez chipping in 15. So when your opposing PGs score 45 on you, well… you either find a new PG or quit life (no, I’m kidding but…).

It was really mostly in the first half that the Hornets looked like worldbeaters but Chris Kaman was getting into the paint easily (13 of his 21 in the first two quarters). It’s like my 5’7″ self was guarding him. It was a combination of the Hornets taking advantage of the tired Laker legs and making nearly everything from the perimeter. So in a way, it was a bit encouraging that we knew the Hornets weren’t likely going to keep that pace up. Going into this game, the Hornets were averaging a whopping 88.2 points per game (good for 29th in the league).

The bench finished with 13 points (10 from Barnes, 3 from Steve Blake). And Mike Brown went back to Jason Kapono again instead of Andrew Goudelock. So what did Jason Kapono do again in this game?

I’ll wait.

THE UGLY
Once again, this seems like a product of tired legs in the first half… but the Lakers turned the ball over 19 times. 12 giveaways in the first half and 8 of those came from the second quarter.

But it, at least, made for an awesome comeback in the second half, right? What? You don’t like come-from-behind victories as opposed to Laker blowout wins? Sorry. Neither do I, actually, when it comes to these Lakers.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
So much to pick from. I can pick from one of the Pau/Drew alley-oops. Or Kobe throwing it down like he’s 21 again. Or Andrew Bynum packing the hell out of Jeff Foote’s (who?) hook shot. But I’ll give it to big-play Ron Artest, er, Metta World Peace with the steal and the breakaway lay-up that put the Lakers up 3 in OT. I can’t say enough on how he’s been coming through as of late. Metta has to think that every game from here on out is a big game.

The Lakers go back to the very comfortable Staples Center, where they’ve only had 2 blemishes in 20 contests. They have the Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Still, these guys are fighting for a playoff spot and Kevin Love isn’t exactly a chicken sandwich. It should be another hard-fought battle at Staples.

Two personal notes from me. 1) I can’t wait for Thursday to be done. I mostly hate (kinda like) the trade deadline so I’ll be glad when that’s over with. And 2) the last six games I was scheduled to do recap duty here, the Lakers won. I’m jinxing myself now, aren’t I? I’ll just shut up about this.

By Friday, we may have some new pieces! Let’s see what happens next!

Lakers are now only two games behind #2 San Antonio. The Lakers face the Spurs three times in April.