Bynum Gettin’ Those Rebounds

Amnesty Kobe! Seriously though, on Wednesday, the Lakers sure looked just fine without their superstar. They didn’t just defeat the San Antonio Spurs, but made a statement in their 98-84 victory: the Lakers can be an unstoppable force when things are clicking.

In a game where LA led by 26 points at one point, there was one player who stood out. Rather, let’s say he stood ‘above’ … because Andrew Bynum and his 30 rebounds (yeah, 30!) made the others on the court seem trivial. From a fan’s perspective who’s watched every LA game this year, it was definitely their best game of the season, not only with Big ‘Drew looking like a dominant all-star, but also the addition of 26 points by Metta World Peace.

Coming in short handed, the Lakers were ready to pencil in the loss as their faced the rested trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. The Lakers took care of business, however, behind the presence of their big man. Bynum had 16 points and 30 rebounds, and became only the fifth player in Lakers history with a 30-rebound game (Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan and Elgin Baylor).

For the last couple of weeks, the talk on L.A. radio has been dominated by topics surrounding Bynum’s outbursts and immaturity; I said it then, and I’ll say it now – Do you Bynum. That raw emotion, the competitive drive … that’s who Andrew Bynum is, and Lakers fans shouldn’t want any of that to be tamed. It’s this characteristic that let Bynum go at Shaq back in 2006, and we need to accept that this attitude is the only chance LA has at another title. We saw Kobe plead Del Harris to feature him in the post rather than Shaq; we saw a Rookie Kobe shoot multiple air balls against Utah because no one else had the guts to shoot; simply put, we’ve seen Kobe go through some struggle to figure out what type of player he truly was. Let’s be patient and afford Bynum the same courtesy.

This version of Bynum gives the Lakers a second, reliable option in close games; in addition to Kobe, the Lakers now have another weapon in their arsenal.

Fun Fact from LA-SA game: Bynum out-rebounded the Spurs in the first half, 19-18.

I don’t think we should expect Ron Artest to consistently make 10 of 15 shots, and 5 of 8 from long-range, but his recent improved play should not be discounted. I don’t see it as some random string of luck, but rather a result of Ramon being the new PG. Whenever Sessions has the ball, especially after a miss, the opposing team is forced to be on their heels due to his speed (especially compared to previous Laker PG, Fisher). More importantly, Ramon’s PG skills has allowed guys like Kobe (pre-injury) and World Peace to focus on getting the right position before getting the entry pass. Pre-trade, I said that one of the biggest problems on the team was a lack of good angles for entry passes; Lamar Odom was our best entry-passer/post-passer last season, and it was definitely lacking for the first couple of months.  With Sessions getting more minutes, it’s noticeable that the other 4 on the team understand and trust they’ll get the ball if they put themselves in the right situation.

The Lakers told Kobe Bryant to stop wearing a walking boot, and see how his shin reacted to being unrestrained. As of now, he’s still day-to-day. The Lakers play next on Friday against the Denver Nuggets.