One day of rest, then back in the Lone Star State fire, this time against the Dallas Mavericks (5:30 pm PST, KCAL). Dirk and his boys are never a squad to take lightly, but under ideal circumstances, Kobe and his boys wouldn't hesitate to declare themselves equals to their upper echelon hosts (or any hosts, for that matter). Unfortunately, these are not ideal circumstances. Injuries have currently taken prisoner of four players, which may not be enough to prompt the tickled pink Kobe Bryant into a 180 on his recent seals of approval towards his squad, but it does mean that Lamar Odom (among others) will need to pick up their games to make their fallen teammates' absences less noticeable. In particular, the void left by no Andrew Bynum. The squad has gone .500 since Drew went down to a subluxatickety (new adjective alert!!!) knee, and while maintaining that clip would actually strike AK as pretty good (all things being equal and realistic), in terms of building upon the Lakers' great start, it represents a road block. The math shows that Kwame Brown is hardly a comparable replacement. Ronny Turiaf has fared better, but his PT is being limited by a toe issue. But on a positive note, assuming Bynum eventually returns healthy, it's easy to picture the Lakers making some noise as the season winds down. After all, Kenny Smith and Magic Johnson both professed during yesterday's TNT pregame show that had the kid remained healthy, he'd have been an All-Star. Which means he'd be kicking it Big Easy style with The Mamba, who predictably led all West players to make his 10th team. From there, let the reserve debate begin... and begin again.
Oh, for those who didn't know, the current issue of ESPN The Magazine features an article on Bynum, delving into large detail about his offseason workouts, his often underestimated love of the game and his relationship with Kobe. It'll be on stands for about another week, so check it out or read it online.