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A Bynum-less existence to bear

Tonight's game against the Raptors marks the second contest played entirely minus the services of Drew Andrew Bynum.  How long the purple and gold need to weather the storm remains to be seen.  As ESPN correspondent Dr. Michael Kaplan told me yesterday, the 8-12 week estimate could be a conservative guess, but the body remains an impossible animal to pin down.  To some degree, Bynum's recovery can't be controlled. 

What is easier to control, however, is how the Lakers play while he recovers.  Some folks stand to be affected by this hurdle more than others, so I decided to break down what I think will be needed from them in particular.  Those unmentioned (Jordan Farmar, Derek Fisher, Vlad Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton) pretty much need to do exactly what's been expected of them.  But better, since everyone must step up their respective games.    

As for other eight fellas... 

Kobe Bryant: Maintain the 61 point average established Monday against the Knicks and everything's ducky. 

  • Kidding.  Not only is that approach completely unnecessary, but nobody is likely more aware of its unnecessariousness than The Mamba (despite any concerns from SI's Paul Forrester). Truth be told, I don't think Kobe needs to change much of anything he's done all season (or for that matter, last season).  I only mention Bryant because as I sifted through various discussions about Kobe's 61 being a "reaction" to Bynum's injury- which I think could be the case on some level- a thought occurred to me.  Who's to say the MSG night wouldn't have happened with Drew healthy?  As if Kobe couldn't go on a shooting/scoring tear with the roster fully intact? 

    I don't say this to encourage an examination of Kobe's "sharing" ability.  I'm just stating what I think is obvious.  We've witnessed Kobe act as a one man scoring crew many times over his career.  And there will be more instances down the road.  The point of contention (assuming one exists) is how often- and literally how- the jag happens, plus the effect on the team.  But instead of speculating whether this game signaled "stylistic shift" for Kobe, as BK said, why don't we just wait to find out?  Until then, I'm willing to treat "61" as a nothing more than a seriously impressive feat.  Or at most, a reminder to Kobe's teammates that, if need be, he can be the great equalizer.

Pau Gasol: Shove first, ask questions later. 

  • For El Spaniard, a slide back to the five isn't just deja vu to his original Laker gig.  It raises again the question of Pau's "softness," how often he gets pushed around while trying to establish a presence in the paint.  As I've said many times and don't need to rehash, I think this storyline grew seriously overblown during the playoffs and particularly against Boston.  But assuming Pau doesn't want to deal with a daily round of "How tough are you?" questions from now until the day Drew suits up, my advice would be to administer a few shots of his own, and without provocation.  Nothing dirty.  Certainly nothing that would injure.  Just a subtle elbow to the back here or a hard screen here.  Pick some very selective spots to mix it up, even if means a tech.  Stop the "Soft-Gate II" yap before it even becomes an issue.

Lamar Odom: Don't worry about being a traditional "All-Star," just be the one your team needs.

  • When BK and I appeared last night on the 710 ESPN Laker Insider Show with Fred Roggin, we were asked if we thought Lamar Odom could step up to alleviate Drew's absence.  As BK pointed out, he did last year, so why doubt a repeat?  But I did note a caveat.  If you're defining "stepping up" as being a consistent 18-22 ppg scorer, that's likely a disappointment in the making.  Some folks have waited nine plus seasons for such production.  They really oughta let go of that dream, especially since the Lakers have enough folks willing and able to stroke nylon.  Where LO really needs to pick up the slack for Drew is on the glass and defensively. 14 rebounds and a trio of blocks against the Knicks laid a very promising foundation, one that will ultimately make or break the Lakers considerably more than the amount of points racked.

Trevor Ariza: Rewrite last year's playoff talk. 

  • As the Lakers encountered their first 2008 postseason struggle against the Boston Celtics, the pundits killed time between "soft-gate" talk by pontificating about how things might be different with Andrew Bynum in the mix.  And yes, a big man playing at Drew's pre-injury level would have absolutely changed the series' complexion.  But amidst all that poetic waxing, how much the absence of a healthy Trevor Ariza hindered L.A.'s quest got lost.  The two-way slasher was technically "available," but typically more rusty than effective.  But at 100%, there's no doubt in my mind Trevor could have made Paul Pierce's at least a little tougher.  Now, he's got the unfortunate chance to prove how much he can help a Bynum-less team.

Josh Powell/Chris Mihm:  Make the minutes matter.

  • Previously a crap shoot to even remove their warmups, no two Lakers stand to see their role drastically expanded more than this duo.   In particular, I see Powell's minutes goosed quite a bit, which isn't a bad thing at all.  As the coaching staff has made clear all season, JP's status outside the rotation has been purely a numbers thing, not a "dissatisfaction" thing.  And minute for minute, you can make an argument that no Laker has made more of their chances than Josh Powell.  But like we saw against Memphis when Drew got hurt (and JP didn't get off the bench), matchups will dictate his burn.  In that particular game, the Lakers needed someone to spell Pau Gasol against his burly bro and Powell would have been surrendering almost 40 lbs.  Thus, Mihm played ten minutes and despite a faulty shooting touch, snagged six boards, blocked a shot, and, most importantly, looked like a servicable role player (as opposed to a memorably disastrous three minute stint against the Celts, where he has no business being on the court).

    Can either guy "fill the void" of Drew?  Be the proverbial "answer?"  I seriously doubt it.  But the good news is that saviors aren't required at the moment.  What's needed from Powell and/or Mihm is 10-15 productive minutes (occasionally more, often less) as legit backups.  I think both are capable, but if you're looking for another confirmation, esteemed scribe Roland Lazenby is also offering a vote of confidence for Mihm.    

Sun Yue/DJ Mbenga: Keep on keeping on. 

  • Although, really, that goes without saying.   


Comments () | Archives (19)

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Funny how kobey's "outburst" vs. the one of the worst defensive teams in the league has laker fans ready to plan the parade route.

Gasal, Powell and odum? Doesn't sound like a terribly formidable front line, especially on the defensive end. bynumb may not be blessed with strong knees, but gasal is not who you want patrolling tha paint.

Shack could vastly help both the lakers and kobey, as he has done before, but the Suns will be keeping him for their run to represent the Western Conference.

Considering Mihm's history, I wouldn't count on him to be of much help in the absence of Andrew Bynum. I'd barely even call him serviceable. He's a total stiff (and I wish him well next year, wherever he winds up). I'll be the first to issue a mea culpa if Mihm turns out to be anything more than slightly useful. But teams like the Celtics and Magic will treat him like a rag doll -- and of course he'll get called for the foul. I cringe every time he touches the ball. I'm not kidding. I visibly cringe. To me, Ariza's the key. He didn't play much in the Finals. In fact, for some reason, he didn't play much on Christmas Day, either. So we really have no idea how effective he can be at making Pierce uncomfortable -- and how much he can make Pierce work at the other end of the floor. But we know he can make life very uncomfortable for a lot of teams. He is the Lakers' X-factor.


please don't do this at home

Well said AK,

As a life long Laker fan, I thought it was groundhogs day, what hurt again! Dagnabbit! I hope drew pulls through but the Lakers are not done by any stretch of the imagination and all these basketball pundits are predicting the demise of the Lakers but as we have seen with Orlando, fortunes can change with the bounce of the ball. We are assuming that the Celts are going to stay healthy. What about picking up a solid defensive minded center. I hear Brad Miller can be had for a bag of chips and a draft pick.

i propose 2 new nicknames for Ben the intern, to be more integrates in the K family

one natural wiull be CK, to have AK, BK and CK-but it can be confused with Calvin K.

but to point out that he is the intern of the K brothers we can have IK ike

AK, BK, IK(the intern)

please vote, or ignore

Same questions Ireland asked Dr. Kaplan on 710am the other day.

But 1 item was left out.

Dr. Kaplan stated he really thought Andrew would be back in 6 WEEKS!!

Later that night Ireland right before tip-off told Bynum that a Dr. said he might be back in 6 weeks and Andrew stated no no 8 weeks. Which I thought was strange.
He usually say yeh I hope I can make it back by then.

Here is what I am getting at. I think they are counting on him back at the 6 week mark but want to keep the 8-12
week so Andrew won't have to deal with the questions of being a slow healer.

After listening to the interview I sure did feel better about Andrews injury where as in the morning when I got the news I was thinking about slitting my wrist.


I totally agree with everything you said about everyone. Pau needs to start shoving his defenders and show that he can play physical. He also needs to stop looking at the refs for a foul. Play through it. Odom isn't really a scorer and most of us know he's an unselfish guy. He would rather pass than shoot. The Lakers will be fine w/o Drew & this season they know he'll be back, hopefully sooner than later.


You don't know anything about parades.

Yes that's me.
I don't anyone can beat me at this time.

Nice to see that Roland Lazenby is still keeping on.

A good writer, he is.

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


kobe does not have a 70+ game

soon at an arena near U

Jon K.

Remember when Roland used to post here?

Charles sez:

"You don't know anything about parades."

But I do know something about basketball. Such as, what in the world are you going to do against Cleveland now that Big Z is back?

Chris, I agree with you about Pau. Odom, not so much. If a team needs you to score (or at least shoot) more, and you insist on passing because you "would rather pass", how is that not selfish?

The guy does what he prefers when the team needs him to do something different. Sounds like the definition of selfish to me.

But I do know something about basketball. Such as, what in the world are you going to do against Cleveland now that Big Z is back?

Posted by: BUTLER | February 04, 2009 at 05:01 PM

The real question is... What are you going to do with Cleveland???

YOu may not even make it to the playoff with the way your team plays... your team is #8 with Utah having more wins in the 9th position...

What are you going to do huh, BUTLER?

"The real question is... What are you going to do with Cleveland???

YOu may not even make it to the playoff with the way your team plays... your team is #8 with Utah having more wins in the 9th position...

What are you going to do huh, BUTLER?"

The SUNS will give them a sound thrashing and then we'll get on with our lives. The goal for the SUNS is to secure that #8 spot so as to repeat the GSW act of knocking off a #1 seed...

The SUNS will give them a sound thrashing and then we'll get on with our lives. The goal for the SUNS is to secure that #8 spot so as to repeat the GSW act of knocking off a #1 seed.=

Is that so... is that the reason why all of a sudden.. your 2X bogus MVP is suddenly on rumors of a trade?

If he is so great, why is he struggling on a new system?

FAce it.. Nash benefited from D'Antoni system...

And with Shaq, you couldn't even WIN over the Lakers with "Gasoft" as you call it, our center last year and this year?

How are you going to win the West? HOW???

As for our Lakers, well, we just the darnest thing in NBA right now... and KOBE, well, he has done nothing this year, except, revel in opponents arena with the town fans shouting MVP! MVP! MVP! ... now isn't that a ballhog thing, YES?

We are going all the way this year baby!

Go Lakers!

Go Kobe!

And by the way, BUTLER...

When was the last time a player receive such adulation from opposing fans as KOBE gets now a days...

I can't think of anyone.. except maybe that Jordan Guy.. what's his name?

Nash???? I haven't heard any... did you?

I think it is funny how so many bloggers called AB a bust and were ready to trade him. When he moved to the low post and his game took off he got injured and many of those same bloggers are saying we can't win championship with Drew out.

I saw we can but it will be definitely harde. With AB we should domonate less the effects of the bets.

In the mean time we should use Mihm but against more physical teams use Mbenga. Powell at pf should help also.

Now the big question is will PJ actually use them or overuse our core?

We shall see.



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