Afterward, Popovich stood outside the Spurs’ locker room, preparing to field questions when Gasol cut through the scrum of reporters and photographers on his way to an interview.
“The guy is going to kick our ass,” Popovich deadpanned, “and then come in the middle of my news conference?”
If their latest outing was any indication, the Lakers figure to turn the West race into their own joke. Bynum has now strung together three impressive performances, putting up 42 points and 15 boards against the Los Angeles Clippers, and 23 and 14 against the Washington Wizards in his previous two games. Taking advantage of DeAndre Jordan is one thing; holding his own against Duncan is another. Bynum made the future Hall of Famer work for his points, even throwing back one of his shots, and when Bynum sealed him off late in the third quarter to intercept a deflected pass, Duncan grabbed the Lakers center in frustration for his fourth foul. Duncan went to the bench, where he stayed for the rest of game.
“He’s got a big body and defensively I thought he was effective,” Duncan said, “but I don’t know that he was much better than he ever was before.”