From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Andrew Bynum is getting better. He helped the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors, 120-110, on Sunday to finish a winter trip East with a 5-1 record. Coach Phil Jackson, Pau Gasol and even Bynum agreed he is making a difference four games into his season; Bynum had 16 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes. Still, Bynum isn’t thrilled he isn’t 100 percent, feeling what he described as a “twinge” in his right knee on his final basket of the game. He went back up to rebound his own miss before scoring — and lamented it afterward. Asked if the brief pinching feelings will go away, Bynum said: “I don’t think so.”
From Wandahbap, Silver Screen and Roll: In Canada, they spell some words a bit differently than we do here in the States. Like Brits and Australians, they spell words like offense and defense with a “c” instead of an “s.” Well, they might as well spell defence like this: n-o-n-e. The Raptors’ D is extinct, much like their namesakes. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, the Lakers didn’t play much defenSe either, but I suppose I can give them a pass. This game was the last of an 11-day, 7-game road trip. Of course they were a little tired. They gave up 110 points in a game they won kind of handily. That should tell you how bad the Raps are on that end. (Okay, okay… Clips “road” games don’t count. 9-day, 6-game road trip. Happy now?)
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Typically speaking, performing outside your own turf can be tough sledding for bench units. Reserves often feed off the energy of a crowd, a task made more difficult on the road with the patrons not on your side. More often than not, the starters will be counted on to provide the biggest push, especially in the final game of a long roadie. But a generally sloppy and careless tone set by the starters — everyone had their individual moments, but the work in tandem left something to be desired — prevented any luxury of relying on the first five. Thankfully, they didn’t bother trying.
From Arsenalist, Raptor’s Republic: With Andrea Bargnani out, that was about as close as this Raptors team could have played the Lakers. The Raptors rose to the occasion in the first quarter, bent but didn’t completely break in the second, mounted a challenge in the third, and ran out of gas in the face of experience in the fourth. Repeating the success seen on this floor against the Lakers last season would have been a tall order even with Bargnani, but without a consistent offensive force the Raptors succumbed to timely Laker runs despite a rather effective zone defense paying dividends.
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: The pain in his right knee struck Lakers center Andrew Bynum with 5:27 left in the game Sunday, right after he scored on an offensive rebound. Bynum reported no swelling in the knee he had surgery on last summer, the same knee that forced him to miss the first 24 regular-season games while he recovered. It was Bynum’s fourth game back, and it was his best effort. He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, including five on offense, and one blocked shot in 17 minutes 39 seconds. “My first couple of games, like I said, the game started moving fast because I had been out for so long,” Bynum said. “But now it feels like it’s slowing down a little bit. I feel a little bit more comfortable out there.”
From Vincent Bonsingore, LA Daily News: There is a picture hanging on the wall of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak’s office in ElSegundo in which he is posing with his Washington Bullets teammates at the White House. The Bullets had just won the 1978 NBA title, the 23-year-old Kupchak playing a pivotal role at power forward, and they gathered there to commemorate their championship. As Kupchak inspects the photo, the innocence of it all jumps out at him. “There’s probably 10 people in this picture who shouldn’t even be there,” Kupchak said, laughing. “It was ridiculous. We had cars of people, no security. People just walked into the room.
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Of course he should lead the voting, by the way. You can think what you’d like about his off-the-court history, but Bryant is the best player on the two-time defending champions. He’s second in league-wide PER on a team that has won 19 of 26 games to start the season, and this February’s All-Star game will take place in Kobe’s adopted hometown of Los Angeles. Sure, the whole game could take place in Clipper colors, but Kobe pretended to want to sign with them in 2004, so this feels all the more appropriate. Beyond that, via the press release I just quoted from RealGM, here’s the rest of the early returns: