It took six games but the Los Angeles Lakers are finally missing Andrew Bynum. During the 108-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors it became obvious the Lake Show is minus a vital piece of the championship puzzle.
All night long the Raptors abused the Lakers in paint during what Stu Jackson described as the one of the “strangest victories you’ll ever see”. Layup after uncontested layup and a woeful 49-31 Toronto advantage on the boards all indicate the absence of Bynum is finally proving problematic.
Without a true defensive presence in the paint, Toronto got to the cup at will. Were it not for the 21 turnovers that befell the Raptors this could have easily been the first loss of the season for Phil Jackson and his team.
It took Pau Gasol an entire half of hoops before grabbing his first board of the game. Gasol led all scorers with 30, but finished with just 7 rebounds. Lamar Odom finally went MIA after a brilliant start to the season. LO shot 2 of 10, scoring 7 points and pulling down a team-high 9 rebounds.
Those numbers are pathetic when compared to Toronto’s front line.
Reggie Evans was a beast on the boards, looking very Rodman-esque during his 14 board, 3 point effort. L.A. native Amir Johnson out hustled the entire Laker squad making the most of his 24 minutes by posting a healthy double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The Lakers again relied on their backcourt off the bench to finally get a stranglehold on this game. After a brilliant first quarter, the Lake Show had a major defensive lapse in the second that eventually would give way to a fantastic close to the third.
Steve Blake was on fire, making his first four attempts from downtown en route to scoring 14 points on just 18 minutes of PT. Shannon Brown got into the act too. He hit a three late in the shot clock that would give the Lakers the lead for good near the end of the third quarter. ShanWow continued his stellar play adding another 12 points to his season total off the bench and even had a sick swat that should have been a called goaltending.
As usual, Kobe Bryant was the portrait of efficiency. KB24 scored 23 on only 12 attempts and in just 34 minutes of action. His night was highlighted by dropping a nice over-the-shoulder dime to Pau on a fast break, later making a beautiful over-the-shoulder save of a ball going out of bounds and then rejecting Linas Kleiza at the rim to preserve the win.
Were it not for the defensive intensity of Ron Artest, helping to harass the Raptors into many of those 21 turnovers, this game could have easily gotten away from the Lake Show. While it is only one game and the Lakers are still a perfect 6-0, Toronto has established a definitive blueprint other teams can use in order to attack the Bynumless Lakers.