Kwame Brown went after an offensive board and, with Fisher’s left arm caught up in his right, tried to untangle himself from his former teammate by pulling away. The slow-mo caught Fisher’s face after Brown pulled on his left arm – it was a look of pain. The Lakers took a timeout and Fisher headed to the locker room. He was done for the night. On the Bobcats’ possession after that timeout, D.J. Agustin drove to the basket and let a floater fly, but it was blocked and knocked against the backboard with a thump hard ‘round the arena.
Dear Bobcats. That was for Derek Fisher. Love, Andrew Bynum.
With their big man, Gerald Wallace, in Portland, the Charlotte Bobcats are not the same team that defeated this Lakers team a few weeks ago. Kwame Brown? He had 6 points, 7 rebounds. Bynum was THE MAN out there for the Lakers. Nine points on 3-4, 3-4 from the free throw line, 17 rebounds, 6 blocks, 1 steal and zero fouls. He was the menace that Charlotte may have scouted for on offense, but had no plan for what he did to them on the defensive end. Bynum ate up every rebound there was to have, and he contested the shots of whoever was shooting around him. Agustin will have nightmares about this man tonight. From the quick smaller guards, to the big men in the paint, Bynum could’ve cared less who was taking the shot. If they were within his reach, he’d contest their attempt, and the difference he made on the court was crystal clear as soon as he stepped off the floor.
Bynum grabbed his 17th rebound of the game to end the third quarter and left Pau Gasol to finish the fourth. If it wasn’t already evident before, it was evident tonight. Gasol is no Bynum on defense, especially of late. Gasol had a productive offensive game, going 8-14 for his 20 points, got his double-double with 10 rebounds and he also had two blocks. Gasol’s defense, however, is typically on an as-needed basis, and with this, the intensity of the Laker defense waned with him in place of Bynum on the court. The Lakers’ work on the glass in the first three quarters also went south in the fourth quarter when they were outrebounded 13-8. If the Lakers are going to find any success on the upcoming road trip, the defense from the two seven-footers must look like that of two SEVEN-FOOTERS.
Other than Gasol and Bynum, the Lakers’ shooting wasn’t particularly sharp tonight. Kobe Bryant led the way with 27 points, but it took him 25 shots to get there. Lamar Odom had another double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and he also had four assists.
It wasn’t the beatdown that it could have been, but at least they won. With a 17-point lead halfway through the third quarter, it appeared the Lakers were on their way to exacting revenge on the team who has had their number the last five some years, but they didn’t sustain their defense and this almost got away from them.
The upcoming road trip should be a good one, with stops in San Antonio and Dallas, two teams that Lakers are trying to overtake in the Western Conference standings. They’ll also be stopping in Miami, so let’s just call this the “revenge tour.” This short stint away from Staples Center will be one of the defending champs’ greatest tests. Let’s see if they’re up for the challenge.
Pre-game Thoughts: It’s payback time – Charlotte beat the Lakers by 20 on Valentine’s Day and the Lakers…well, they just need to get over this Bobcat domination hump.
Half-time Thoughts: 35-45 – The Lakers closed the first quarter with a 23-9 run and shot 52% in the first 12 minutes. They closed the half, however, shooting just 39%, but held Charlotte to 34% shooting. Kobe Bryant leads all scores with 16 points but needed 17 shots to get there. Andrew Bynum only has four points, but he’s already pulled 13 rebounds. If the Lakers want to open this game up, they need to maintain their defensive aggressiveness and more ball movement
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Reserve backcourt – The Matt Barnes letdown was bad enough, but Steve Blake and Shannon Brown combined for 11 points on just 4-15 from the field. The Lakers bench has got to be more dependable, even without the temporary presence of Matt Barnes.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Andrew Bynum – 9 points, 17 rebounds, 6 blocks and ZERO fouls. WOW.