In the first game without Andrew Bynum, whose absence can last up to two weeks (so far as everyone has been told), the Lakers started lethargically on the floor in the first quarter before finally picking up their game in the second quarter.
On this Noche Latina at Staples, L.A.’s favorite Spanish representative, Pau Gasol, dominated quickly and accurately inside. Pau’s stroke of late has looked exceptionally smooth. He’s going at the basket strong, his mid-range jumper looks sharp as can be and even his free throws are finding their way into the hoop. Finishing the night off with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and one block, Pau appears back to his usual, quiet dominating self. With the absence of Andrew for the next couple of weeks (hopefully no more than that), the quality of Pau’s time on the floor needs to be as efficient and pristine (minus the four turnovers) as it was tonight.
Kobe Bryant, who for the last few games has taken on the role of facilitator, locked in offensively in the first half tonight. His 3-point shooting has been somewhat M.I.A. since his return from injury, but tonight he launched and hit three 3-pointers in a row without breaking a stride. With 24 points on 10-17 shooting, not to mention four assists and three rebounds, Kobe’s obviously aware of what he needs to contribute without another scorer like Andrew on the floor.
Ron Artest chipped in 16 points on a rare, but welcome, offensive effort of 7-10, plus three steals.
Lamar Odom wasn’t as involved offensively as Andrew’s absence usually dictates, but his 13 rebounds and six assists are what make him valuable to this team.