Before the All-Star break, when Kobe Bryant was racking up Player of the Week wins, I was begging any other Laker to knock Mamba off his stoop. I expect Kobe to bring it night in and night out, but knew the Lakers needed someone else to step up and match him. If that happened, the Lakers would get back to crushing the hopes of their less fortunate counterparts throughout the NBA. It has. Last week, Ron Artest earned the honors, and now it's Andrew Bynum's turn.
It took a while, but Andrew looks to have completely shaken off any rust from his last injury. He looks confident in his knee, and it's translating to confidence in his game. The Bynum Smash has returned, and with it the Lakers we love to love have to. The Lakers have held their last three opponents under 90 points, in large part to Andrew's defense and rebounding.
Those of you that spend your time playing skeptic, Bynum's gonna put you and those doubts on a ball and smash you too. Either that, or Bluexfalcon will find you. Here's his stats for the Week, but remember it's his impact on defense that makes the Lakers damn near unbeatable when their in peak form:
13 points, 11.33 rebounds, and 4.33 blocks per game in 29.33 minutes per game. He shot 13 of 21 for 61.9% from the field.
Some glowing words about Andrew after the Jump...
This season, something has changed in Drew. Whether it is because he joined his teammates late in the season and is building his way back up, whether its because he finally made a significant contribution to a champion and knows about the individual sacrifice required for that ultimate team prize, or whether it is simply the natural progression and maturity of a young dude figuring things out in life, Andrew Bynum is no longer affected by his involvement in the game. He knows his job, and that job is to be the anchor of the defense. And, since the team is allowing nearly five points less per 100 possessions that he is on the court (best on the team by a fair margin), he is clearly a very good anchor.
This evening the Lakers got by just fine without Barnes, thanks in no small part to Andrew Bynum. Drew was the linchpin of a splendid defensive effort that held Charlotte to 0.92 points per possession. The kid was straight-up monstrous. His six blocks and 12 defensive rebounds (out of 17 total) are impressive enough but hardly capture his dominance. He was quick, rangy and aggressive and swallowed up nearly everything the Cats tried to get around the hoop.
His presence visibly intimidated Charlotte ballhandlers, who for long stretches simply stopped trying to penetrate for fear of Bynum's rock-star-from-Mars awesomeness. Drew's performance tonight was another step in his development into a guy who can tilt the playing field in the Lakers' favor without a lot of touches. Granted, the Bobcats don't have the deadliest array of low-post scoring threats, but if Drew can exert something like this kind of influence against teams that do, I'll agree not to make any more World Cup jokes at his expense.
His mobility was particularly impressive, as Bynum was able to contest shots and still recover for a rebound, or in some cases get after more than one shot in a possession.
Just as it was against Atlanta in L.A.'s first game out of the break, Bynum demonstrated how he can dominate a game without scoring much in it.
Andrew Bynum sure does look good lately. As we wrote a little while ago, he's doing more things - and doing them better - than he ever has before. CA Clark is seeing these same things of late. I must say a healthy, engaged, active, and productive Andrew Bynum is one of the key difference makers in the entire league. Note that I'm not saying as good as other players, I'm saying difference makers. Seven foot behemoths that score with touch, rebound well, and defend the paint are often key ingredients to championship teams. Right now, with what he's showing, the Lakers have one.