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Category: Andrew Bynum

Five things to take away from Lakers-Nuggets game

Kobe Bryant

1. Kobe Bryant was a ball hog. It's completely fair and accurate to pin the Lakers' 99-90 loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets to a large extent on Bryant, who scored 16 points on six-for-28 shooting. The 22 missed shots overshadowed Bryant's becoming the sixth NBA player (and the youngest) and second guard behind Michael Jordan to score 28,000 points. Said Channel 9's Bill Macdonald: "For Kobe, a historic night for all the wrong reasons."

Bryant is entitled to a bad shooting night and he has unmatched confidence in overcoming a slump. But let's be real. Many of his shots are contested. There also comes a point in a game when Bryant needs to understand he doesn't have his shot that night. So simply adjust. On Saturday against the Nuggets, Bryant faced similar double teams, but he responded by facilitating and rebounding. On Sunday, he simply gunned. To make matters worse, Bryant provided little on defense, committed six turnovers and often argued with officials over calls.

Lakers Coach Mike Brown has already publicly criticized Bryant on his defensive effort during the preseason. Now it's time for Brown to acknowledge the obvious. Bryant's trigger-happy tendencies single-handedly cost the Lakers the game. 

 2. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum remained impressive, but they weren't used enough. One of the consequences of Bryant's shooting tendencies was the Lakers' not utilizing their size advantage enough. Gasol and Bynum combined for 38 points on 15 for 27 shooting and 27 rebounds. So clearly, this wasn't one of those nights when the Lakers' bigs didn't deserve touches. Had Bryant chosen to pass inside more often instead of shoot, it's likely the Lakers' inside game would've flourished even more. 

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Andrew Bynum proves unstoppable even if he's winded

The moment Andrew Bynum entered the paint there was nothing to hold him back.

Though the Laker center's first shot was blocked by Denver center Timofey Mozgov, it was quickly clear Mozgov couldn't match Bynum.

Concerns about whether Bynum would be featured as the Laker offense's focal point proved unfounded. Kobe Bryant fed him the ball steadily while Pau Gasol enthusiastically deferred to him.

Any doubt that Bynum's off-season work on his post moves would translate onto the court immediately fizzled. Bynum pounded, cut, spun and dunked his way for 29 points on 13 of 18 shooting, with 13 rebounds and two blocks. It was the second-highest scoring effort of his career (he had 42 against the Clippers on Jan. 21, 2009). 

"I just wanted to get down low," Bynum said. "When I shot it today, I made shots. It's easy to talk big and look good when you're making everything. Tonight, I just felt good."

Well, except for one thing. Hauling his 7-foot-0, 285-pound frame up and down the court proved to be more punishing than Denver's frontline defense. Lakers Coach Mike Brown constantly urged Bynum on the sideline to "run, run, run, run, run." Bynum appeared lost on defensive rotations and found himself out of position to make plays. And he admitted he felt "winded like crazy today." 

But the Lakers are just as determined not to give Bynum a free pass on his conditioning. 

"We're going to get him the ball 20 times in a row in Denver, and that Mile High is going to climb on his back real quick, and we're all going to watch him suffer," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said with a grin.

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The Lakers discuss their New Year's resolutions [Video]

No, the Lakers don't have typical New Year's resolutions. They don't need to work out more, eat healthier and get a better job.

But they too are looking forward to a fresh start and in an interview with The Times, they discussed what they hope the New Year will bring.

Josh McRoberts wants world peace (not his teammate), Metta World Peace wants to have fun, Kobe Bryant wants to be healthy, Jason Kapono wants his fans to send him books instead of candy and Matt Barnes is looking forward to moving on from a year that he said was both personally and professionally challenging.

Mark Medina, who runs The Times' Lakers blog, has some other suggestions -- so he talked with his colleague Melissa Rohlin in a video interview below about what the Lakers should be desiring.

--Melissa Rohlin

Things to take away from Lakers' 92-89 win over Denver

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1. Lakers finally secure a close game. OK, so no one could breathe a sigh of relief until the final second. Danilo Gallinari missed a wide-open layup on a fastbreak triggered by a long rebound off a Kobe Bryant miss from three-point range. Bryant made one of two free throws and Al Harrington missed a three-point try. But the Lakers' 92-89 victory Saturday over the Denver Nuggets also showed their ability to make key plays, something they lacked in season-opening losses to the Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings. 

Take your pick of exciting plays. Ty Lawson running a screen-and-roll prompted Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum to switch, leaving Nene open for a dunk. There was Bynum's converted lob from Bryant followed by a free throw. There was Nene's missed dunk. There was Fisher diving for a loose ball after missing a trey with the shot clock running down. There was Bynum's block on Nene followed by a layup on the other end that gave the Lakers a 91-89 lead. And there was Pau Gasol's block on Harrington.

With exception to Nene's dunk off the pick and roll, the Lakers executed properly on defense in the final stretch. As much as there was to take away from the game, the fact the Lakers closed out in such a fashion marks growth. 

2. Bynum can score, but he can't run. Once Bynum enters the paint, an aggressive switch turns on. His 29 points on 13 for 18 shooting, 13 rebounds and two blocks amounted to the second-highest statistical showing of his career. He caught feeds in the post, performed nifty spin moves and was a towering, dominant presence in his first game this season after a four-game suspension.

There's no debate on Bynum's value upon his return and how much involvement he'll have in the offense. But there is debate on when Bynum will catch up on his conditioning. It turns out the only time Bynum shows any speed is when he's driving. He looked winded, which detracted from his defense and rotatations. Interestingly, Lakers Coach Mike Brown talked with Bynum each time he removed him, showing he's properly evaluating Bynum beyond his scoring production. Big picture, Bynum's poor conditioning is going to seriously hurt the team if it doesn't improve soon.

3. Bryant played facilitator. There was understandable debate on how the offensive pecking order would work with Bryant being the scorer that he is and Bynum wanting a larger role. But for at least one game, Bryant was buying into it. His 17 points on six-for-18 shooting, 10 rebounds and nine assists reflected Denver's relentless effort to double team him. But instead of forcing the issue, Bryant simply punished the Nuggets by finding Bynum and Gasol for open looks. Once Bryant finally scored with 3:40 left in the second quarter, he strung together a series of fadeaways when the Nuggets fed him with single coverage. Bryant's assist total would've been higher had the Lakers made their outside shots.

 

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Andrew Bynum has potential to make All-Star team

Among Andrew Bynum's most pressing concerns, wondering if he can make the 2012 NBA All-Star team isn't one of them.

Right now, he's concerned about how his conditioning will hold up when he makes his 2011-12 debut Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. Bynum's curious to what degree training camp and two preseason game appearances makes him fully comfortable with Mike Brown's offensive and defensive system. He's hopeful the vision he shares with the front office that he'll have a larger offensive role this season will actually pan out. And Bynum also wonders something we all have pondered for far too long: can he stay healthy? 

Regardless, all of the aforementioned variables will play a large part on whether Bynum fulfills his dream in finally landing a spot on this season's All-Star team. Lakers Coach Mike Brown believes it can happen

"From the outside looking in," Brown said, "you see him getting better every year and you think he would get to a point where he is that."

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Mike Brown expects to play Andrew Bynum 34 minutes against Denver

Once Lakers center Andrew Bynum steps on the court Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, he expects he will "be a little bit winded."

Too bad.

Despite Bynum serving a four-game suspension related to his forearm shove on Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs, Lakers Coach Mike Brown plans to maintain the 34-minute regimen he envisioned at the beginning of the season. 

"He better be ready," Brown said. "Obviously if he can't go, I'll take him out. But there's no easing into anything."

The thought process involves Brown's belief that will expedite two things: how Bynum adjusts to a new offensive and defensive system and how his teammates adapt to playing around him. In the first four games, Brown featured a three-man frontcourt rotation involving Pau Gasol at starting center, Josh McRoberts at power forward and Troy Murphy coming off the bench.

Meanwhile, Bynum has practiced with the team, appeared in two preseason games and traveled on the Lakers' lone road game at Sacramento. But his suspension barred him from attending any of the games and participating in any pregame warmups at the respective arena. Even though Bynum acknowledged his conditioning limitations, he said, "As many minutes I can play, I'll be happy to get."

"Defensively, I feel good," Bynum said. "The only difference for me is showing and getting back to the basket. Everything else is relatively the same. Offensively, there's a lot of changes and things I still need to get accustomed to. It's studying."

RELATED:

Andrew Bynum's stubborn sense of entitlement

Lakers shouldn't pin Andrew Bynum as their franchise player

Andrew Bynum will be there for one more game, Lakers: Merry Christmas

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com 

Andrew Bynum's stubborn sense of entitlement

Andrew Bynum

Just as he's serving punishment for acting in an immature manner, Lakers center Andrew Bynum provided another example that indicates he still hasn't grown up.

He was pulled over twice in the last two days and cited for speeding and equipment deficiencies by the California Highway Patrol, reported The Times' Ben Bolch, so it's likely he'll enter Saturday's game against Denver fielding questions beyond just his return to the lineup. 

OK, so no one should be morally outraged by this. After all, raise your hand if you've never gotten a speeding ticket. Still, this illustrates how Bynum's sense of entitlement remains strong.

He's currently serving a four-game suspension for throwing a forearm at Dallas guard J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. (Anyone defending his character should consider this happened two other times.) And after clotheslining Barea, Bynum took off his Laker jersey in apathy and offered no apology until two days later.

Bynum's car was also spotted twice last summer parking in handicapped spaces. Anyone looking at that as a petty incident should consider truly handicapped people unable to find a space simply because Bynum wanted to save time running errands.

And then this week brought Bynum and the two separate driving incidents. On Tuesday, Bynum was pulled over by the CHP on the 405 Freeway near the La Tijera Boulevard exit for driving his Porsche 911 without a license plate and improper lighting equipment. On Wednesday, Bynum was pulled over again on the 405 and issued a ticket for speeding. So it's no one's concern but his that Bynum lacks a proper license plate and lighting equipment. But it's surely the Lakers' concern that Bynum's speeding only adds further risk to him possibly suffering another injury again.

Bynum, at age 24, may have matured in some aspects. His conditioning, post moves and dedication have improved. He's tuned in to reading self-help books and meditating. He's eager to try new things, such as learning to speak Spanish this past off-season. But as far as practical, off-court matters, Bynum clearly has lots to learn. And if his recent behind-the-wheel incidents are any indication, he still has a long way to go.  

RELATED:

Andrew Bynum cited for speeding, equipment deficiencies by CHP

Lakers shouldn't pin Andrew Bynum as their franchise player

Andrew Bynum will be there for one more game, Lakers: Merry Christmas

Andrew Bynum caught parking in a handicapped spot

— Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Center Andrew Bynum has served three games of his four-game suspension for his flagrant foul against Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs. Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times.

Andrew Bynum cited for speeding, equipment deficiencies by CHP

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Lakers center Andrew Bynum was pulled over twice in the last two days and cited for speeding and equipment deficiencies by the California Highway Patrol, according to CHP officer Christian Cracraft.

On Tuesday, Bynum's Porsche 911 was pulled over by the CHP on Interstate 405 near the La Tijera Boulevard exit, Cracraft said. Bynum was cited for driving without a license plate and improper lighting equipment and issued a fix-it ticket, which gives him 60 days to repair the deficiencies.

On Wednesday, Bynum was pulled over again on the 405 and issued a ticket for speeding, Cracraft said. He will have to appear in court in about 60 days.

Bynum's car was spotted last summer stretched across two handicapped parking spaces at a grocery store in Westchester, though he did not receive a ticket.

The Lakers did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Bynum's citations.

Bynum is slated to make his season debut Saturday against the Denver Nuggets after serving a four-game suspension for committing a flagrant foul against Jose Barea in last season's playoffs.

RELATED:

Metta World Peace feels more comfortable with bench role

Lakers show improvement in win over Utah Jazz (Web links)

Metta World Peace shows he can soar to top of Lakers' reserves

-- Ben Bolch

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Things to watch in Lakers-Kings game

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Some things to keep an eye on when the Lakers play at Sacramento on the second day of a three-game stretch.

1. How will Kobe Bryant's wrist hold up? I hope to keep the Kobe wrist-watch analysis in perspective, so it doesn't sound redundant. Believe me, asking Bryant how his wrist is feeling becomes as annoying to him as the reporter asking it. But it's going to be inevitable, at least for the next couple of games. As Bryant showed Christmas Day with a 28-point performance on 11-of-23 shooting, his stroke is largely unaffected -- at least to the point that he only needs to wear athletic tape around the wrist, instead of a protective device. However, his eight turnovers can be at least partly attributed to his wrist problem. The lower that number drops, the more it will indicate that Bryant is making better adjustments on his handle. 

2. The Lakers need a pick-me-up. The Lakers definitely need this back-to-back to immediately rectify blowing an 11-point lead in the final minutes of the Christmas opener. In that game, they showed that hard work alone won't be enough to beat elite opponents, and certainly won't wipe out ridiculous mistakes. The game against Sacramento gives them an opportunity to correct those and errors and feel better after collecting a win.

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Andrew Bynum will be there for one more game, Lakers: Merry Christmas

Andrew Bynum has had his five-game suspension reduced to four. What more could the Lakers wish for at the holidays? Well, plenty.

They failed to acquire Chris Paul. They had planned to trade Lamar Odom -- but not to the Dallas Mavericks for a first-round pick and an $8.9-million trade exemption. And now Kobe Bryant has torn a ligament in his right wrist.

Still, Bynum’s reduced suspension is a bit of good news entering a 2011-12 season filled with uncertainty. Bynum appearing in one extra game will help significantly.

Just look at the difference between the first and second preseason games against the Clippers to see why.

In the first game, the Lakers’ offense appeared completely lost on running pick-and-roll sets and cutting to the right side of the floor. They still had issues in the second game, but the Lakers overcame the aforementioned problems enough for Bynum to increase his points (from 15 to 26) and his shooting percentage (from five of 11 to 11 of 15).

Now Bynum will appear in back-to-back games, starting New Year’s Even against the Nuggets, then flying over to Denver for a New Year’s Day matchup. He has said he still needs work on his conditioning, and this should help.

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