From Kevin Ding, OC Register: With 29 percent of the NBA schedule already behind them, the Lakers finally introduced Andrew Bynum to the 2010-11 regular season Tuesday night. The relief was evident in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. The Lakers rolled through an injury-depleted Washington Wizards team, 103-89, with Gasol enjoying a light 31-minute night and Odom delivering 18 points and 10 rebounds. Both Gasol and Odom picked up two early fouls, perhaps subconsciously aware that Bynum is back now to have their backs in the NBA’s best three-man big-man rotation. Bynum blocked a shot on his first defensive possession and had seven points, four rebounds in two blocks in 17:29 off the bench.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Let’s get to the important stuff first: Andrew Bynum did indeed play tonight, and he looked good doing so. The Laker big man had been in the shop since knee surgery in late July. This evening in Washington he took the court for the first time since then, entering the game about halfway through the first quarter. He clocked 17 minutes total, and though he was understandably a bit rusty, there was a lot to like in what we saw from him. He made some tasty contributions in the champs’ 103 to 89 victory over the very understaffed Wizards. Initially the most striking thing about seeing Drew again is how big he looked. Not Kirstie Alley big or Shawn-Kemp-after-the-1999-lockout big, but big like my ripped quads and 17-inch biceps. (*flexes in mirror before returning to keyboard*) During his convalesence Drew clearly worked hard to stay fit and maintain his upper-body strength.
From Yahoo! Sports: Kobe Bryant said it was a first for him. Never had he missed all three free throws after getting fouled attempting a 3-point shot. He heard the crowd boo and laugh at his expense, especially as shot No. 3 badly clanked off the front of the rim. “Never happened to me,” Bryant said. “Never.” And it was the worst thing that could happen to the undermanned Washington Wizards. After his dubious NBA hat trick, Bryant kick-started himself and soon was running off 12 straight points for his team, leading the decisive third-quarter run Tuesday night in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 103-89 victory. “Absolutely,” said Bryant, when asked if the trifecta of misses got his juices flowing. “I just got going. I got some good looks, knocked them down. I made one. I made the next. Things just went on from there.”
From the K-Bros, Land O’ Lakers: What could have been another ho-hum night against a go-nowhere Eastern Conference opponent missing its most exciting young player took on a whole lot more interest Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers took the floor against the Washington Wizards with Andrew Bynum back in the lineup for the first time this season. A welcome addition to the lineup on the night they said a somewhat protracted goodbye to Sasha Vujacic, who was traded — along with a first rounder in 2012 — for well-traveled (to say the least) veteran (ditto) forward Joe Smith. But because Smith, thanks to league rules on offseason free-agent signees, can’t be traded until tomorrow afternoon, Vujacic experienced a sort of dead-man-walking night on the Lakers’ bench. There … but not really.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The reality of his trade away from the Lakers sinking in, Sasha Vujacic said Tuesday night: “Sometimes things have to change in order to restart, rebuild and go forward.” Who knew so much wisdom lay under so much hair? The Lakers sure didn’t. They became increasingly frustrated by Vujacic’s years of inability to listen in that deeper way of listening that triggers actual growth. Even those within the organization who were close to Vujacic began to drift away in recent years, especially last season. It was inconceivable that Vujacic could go this entire season without being traded given how overpaid he was on such an overstuffed payroll. Matt Barnes’ signing back in July – a move not initially in the Lakers’ spending plans – ensured this day in December would come at some point.
From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: The New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets have agreed in principle on a three-way trade that will send Terrence Williams to Houston, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and a 2012 first-round pick from Houston will go to New Jersey. Nets forward Joe Smith will join the Lakers, who also will send their 2011 first-round pick to New Jersey. In an effort to create luxury-tax savings by trading Vujacic’s $5.5 million salary for Smith’s $1.35 million, the Lakers were willing to include their first-round pick.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: In a move to bolster their front-court depth and also save millions in salary and luxury taxes, the Lakers have agreed to trade Sasha Vujacic and a 2011 first-round draft pick to New Jersey as part of a three-team trade that will bring veteran forward Joe Smith to the Lakers. The trade is conditional upon Smith passing a physical. As the fifth guard in Phil Jackson’s four-guard rotation, Vujacic had seen his playing time reduced to almost nothing this season. Vujacic, 26, is averaging only 1.8 points and 4.9 minutes a game. He played in 11 of the Lakers’ 24 games before Tuesday.
From Dexter Fishmore, SBNation: As comeback announcements go, it wasn’t as theatrical or world-rocking as Michael Jordan’s two-word press release (“I’m back”) in 1995. But when Andrew Bynum announced yesterday, via the Twitter feed of Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Bresnahan, that he’s “definitely playing” Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards, Laker fans everywhere did a little MJ fist pump. The Lakers’ young center hasn’t seen any game action since the NBA Finals last June (unless you count the World Cup matches he attended over the summer), and Lakerdom is depending on his long-anticipated return from post-surgical convalescence to inject new verve into a season that after a roaring start has been nervously drifting sideways.