lc

triumphAs the Lakers finally get their groove back after a grueling 7-game road trip, Laker fans received a pleasant surprise to begin the Nuggets game. Andrew Bynum, who has been out with a torn MCL since January 31st, was back in the starting line-up along with Kobe, Fisher, Ariza, and Gasol. It was somewhat shocking to see him dressed down, ready to play.

Phil Jackson and others have been highly publicizing his recovery, but I definitely didn’t anticipate a return prior to the playoffs!

Before game-time, Phil relayed to Bynum to take it easy, and “let the game come to him”. In 21 minutes of play, Bynum racked up 16 points and 7 boards, solid statistics for a center that was attempting to be ginger with a recovering injury all game. But Bynum wasn’t the only Laker cleaning up the glass. Pau Gasol conjured 19 rebounds against Denver, which brought him a new career-high.

Andrew’s arrival to the starting line once more bumped Lamar Odom, who has been a constant starter since Bynum’s injury, back down to second unit. The threat to his playing time was obviously taken to heart, because he came off the bench with the intensity of a player who wanted his starting slot back. As soon as he came in for Bynum in the first quarter, he hit a 3 pointer, blocked a shot, and was penetrating enough to draw contact and go to the line for some easy points. Definitely the type of pick-me-up Odom’s going to need to contribute early in games if Bynum still isn’t 100% by post-season.

Another welcome surprise was the addition of Shannon Brown much earlier in the game than we’re usually used to. Derek Fisher was caught with two fouls early in the first and was forced to the bench, when Shannon Brown took his place on the floor. Shannon’s performance in recent games has been a welcome spurt of energy for the Lakers’ bench. His aggressive nature was a useful trait against Denver whose team is chock full of speedy, agile, players. Within the first couple minutes of play, Brown had already drawn a foul at the 3 point line (and sank 2), as well as, gained an assist from a brilliant inside pass to Gasol.

Finally! Some consistency! Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton have also stepped their game up, although Luke’s 3 assists were nothing compared to his 9 against the Sacramento Kings last game, his rebounds/game has gradually increased since the Lakers beat the Clippers at home on April 5th. Sasha had 9 points for the game, 3 shy from what he scored against the Kings, but still solid especially considering how he was shooting on the road. Sasha had 3 steals and Luke had 2, which provided a face-lift to our slacking defense as of late.

In other Lakers’ news, Phil Jackson will not be traveling with the team to their next game against Portland. He is currently suffering from plantar fasciitis, and will be treated for pain and inflammation in his legs. Kurt Rambis will serve as head coach in his place. Although Phil doesn’t plan to miss any more games, this particular one will be rough without him.

The Blazers have beat the Lakers the past 7 games at the Rose Garden, and are prone to losing double digit leads in that particular vicinity. The match-up against the Blazers will also send Kobe past Charles Barkley on the all-time scoring list (unless he doesn’t score at all, he’s only one point behind him). Let’s hope Kurt can keep our boys motivated without the Zen-Master.

  • WifelovesLuke

    You wrote “Andrew’s arrival to the starting line once more bumped Lamar Odom, who has been a constant starter since Bynum’s injury, back down to second unit. The threat to his playing time was obviously taken to heart, because he came off the bench with the intensity of a player who wanted his starting slot back”

    LO knew all along that when Bynum came back he would go back to the bench mob. It’s what’s best for the team and what he accepted back in training camp. It will have such a positive impact on the team. Because of how strong and consistant he has played over the last month, he will be on the floor at the end of games because PJ trusts him. Don’t make comments about him wanting his spot back when he got his spot back running the second unit. Poor observation on your part but good article.

  • Tatum

    You are absolutely correct, he probably did accept it. But his attitude coming off the floor was very defensive, almost as if he had something to prove. How are you so sure what Odom’s thinking? Do you telepathically communicate with his brain? I was merely making an observation. As soon as it turns to fact, I will report it as such. Thank you for the compliment about my article, I am glad you liked it despite the comment about Odom.

  • Shannonbeforefarmar,please

    Odom lobbies for return to bench
    Published by Jaime Quintanilla on April 8, 2009 in News

    hey TATUM how’d you ge a gig writing for the nation without reading the site? Odom was amazing last the only thing he had to prove was that the Nuggets had no chance of stepping into our house and continuing their streak. That was pure energy off the bench, that stuff we have been needing since Bynum went down. They all knew what was coming this week that’s why our bench came back against the Kings. LO came out defensive as all hell, I’ll give you that but that’s his frickin’ job ain’t it? Last night he just did it better than he has been and we should be all be happy about it and not trying to start more rumors about how LO is pissed about coming of the bench…Please, his paycheck doesn’t decrease for coming off the bench and he plays for the best team in the league as they are on they’re way to greatness…no f’ing time for bitching about being more rested than the starters.

    overall I concur with the dude who’s wifelovesluke? nice article+bad LO judgement=B+