After being unapologetic about his two weeks worth of antics, which involved two-game ejections and questionable shot selection, and throw in not responding in “PC” fashion when asked certain questions about his actions on the court, Los Angeles Lakers center, Andrew Bynum, showed how valuable he is to the Lakers’ success.
Considered by a number of media pundits to be a possible hindrance in the Lakers title aspirations due to his recent behavior, Bynum put that notion to rest with a dominant game against the San Antonio Spurs (#2 seed in Western Conference), racking up 30 rebounds in monstrous fashion, to go along with 16 points, as the Lakers defeated the Spurs 98-84.
Bynum’s 30-rebound effort puts him in rare company, as he becomes only the fifth player in team history to do so (George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), and the second player behind Kevin Love (31 in 2010) to do so in the NBA over the last two years. Bynum’s performance was accompanied by a unified team-like effort by his Laker teammates.
Apparently, there appears to be some life left in Metta World Peace, as he led the team in scoring with 26 points. Pau Gasol would follow suit with a nice double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers also got some steady play from Ramon Sessions once again, something that has become a constant expectation, and received a welcomed contribution from the reserves, as Matt Barnes (13) and Steve Blake (10) combined for 23 points off the bench. If the Lakers are going to get this kind of balance come playoff time, then any and every team need not overlook the Lakeshow.
The irony in last night’s win is that they did it without their leader, Kobe Bryant aka The Black Mamba, who sat out his third straight game resting up his injured shin. The Lakers are 2-1 without The Mamba, and its kind of an interesting perspective on how this team has grown from the beginning of the season to now.
Earlier on, Bryant would have played with the pain, to ease his mind of giving the Lakers the best chance to win, even with him being less than 100 percent. But now for him, as well as this Lakers coaching staff, to trust this team to hold on for dear life to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference with only seven games remaining, shows that the Lakers are starting develop a ”championship-like” confidence that will be beneficial come playoff time.
Last night’s game was the first meeting between these two ball clubs all season, as well as the first of three meetings in a nine-day span to end the season. Hopefully, Bryant can join the party the next time around (next Tuesday on TNT), so that the Lakers can fully gage themselves against the Spurs.
Obviously, you can’t put too much into one game, and it would be way to easy for me to call the Spurs ”fool’s gold”, which I believe they are (remember last year’s playoff run that didn’t happen because they got knocked out of the playoffs by the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies), the Lakers still have to take care of business the next two times these teams meet to mentally become focus, and establish the right kind of momentum heading into the playoffs.
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Written by Arthur Kai