If the last we saw of Andrew Bynum in 2011 is a preview of what to expect for 2012 then the Dwight Howard talk could vanish from sports talk radio in Los Angeles. Bynum was an unstoppable beast in his much anticipated debut. Most important of all his presence was necessary for the Lakers to pull out their third straight win in a nail-biting 92-89 victory over Denver.
This one came down to the final ticks of the clock and wouldn’t you know it, the Lake Show was actually able to drop the curtain on an opponent in the fourth.
Ok so maybe Danilo Gallinari’s inexplicable blown layup late helped too. No disrespect to Danilo but 6’10” athletes aren’t supposed to miss shots 5’9” stockbrokers can make. But he wasn’t the only Nugget to help give this one away cheaply. Nene missed a crucial dunk in the fourth quarter as well.
While the Nuggets did shoot themselves in the foot they had help in being led to their demise. Mike Brown’s defense is really taking shape and today was the best we’ve seen yet.
Bynum and Pau Gasol had a couple of clutch blocks late in this one. That interior presence of Drew was really felt as the Laker D stepped up by slowing the roll of the NBA’s most potent offense. Aside from Al Harrington’s sharp shooting the Nuggets were largely quite today.
The offensive struggles are still very prevalent for the Lakers though. 5 games into the Mike Brown era and not one 100-point game.
Kobe Bryant messed around and nearly got a triple double. His 17 points were the fewest he’s produced in a game this season but 10 boards and 9 dimes make for a nice fantasy stat line. Bryant’s shot was off today but typical of KB24 he upped his game in other areas to contribute in the W.
Gasol had another decent effort. His 17 points made him only the third Laker in double figures today. However Gasol wasn’t much of a factor on the boards nor was he very active in the general flow of the game. Let’s hope Pau’s resolution f0r 2012 is to play like its 2010.
Coach Brown is still working out his rotation so that did have an affect on the offensive output. Matt Barnes got the start today and Devin Ebanks never saw the court. Wonder what that could mean?
Metta World Peace put up a goose egg as he never dropped a bucket. This is clearly going to be a learning process for Metta. Meanwhile Josh McRoberts looked very comfortable coming off the bench.
Derek Fisher had one of those moments we’ve come to expect of the vet. During a key possession with the Lakers trailing by 2 in the 4th Fish hit the floor, out racing the speedy Ty Lawson for a hardnosed dive for a loose ball. Typical Fisher. He always finds a way to come up big in even the most subtle ways sometimes.
But today was all about Bynum.
Drew played the part of franchise big man in every way today. He was unstoppable in the post, dominated the board and defended the rim. In all Bynum posted a sick line of 29, 13 and 2 blocks.
You could still see some rust on Bynum. He was late on a few defensive rotations and turned the ball over 5 times as well. There were some questionable no-calls on fouls committed against Drew but that is expected of a dominant big. Yes, I think we can start to bust out the D word when it comes to describing Drew.
Of course first we’ll have to see the C word from Drew first – as in consistency.
(Cue the typical New Year’s joke)
Too bad we’ll have to wait until next year to get our next offering of Bynum.
For Mike Brown today was an encouraging sign. His team is making the commitment to playing defense and the ball is moving on offense. With Andrew Bynum owning the paint the possibilities are endless. After the shaky start the Lake Show closed 2011 with three consecutive wins. All of a sudden the prospects of playing in June in 2012 seem a faint reality.