“I’m not even thinking of the pain,” Andrew Bynum said to Craig Sager during a half-time interview.

“During the game, he never complains,” Phil Jackson said of his young center.

“Andrew’s a trooper,” Lamar Odom praised.

“I was so pleased,” Pau Gasol gushed of his fellow 7 footer’s performance.

To think that two seasons ago, Bynum sat on the bench while the Boston Celtics mauled his teammates. Last season, he didn’t do more than foul Dwight Howard for every opportunity (or maybe “certainty” is a better word) for missed free throws. Now this season, he is not only playing injured, but playing effectively while he’s injured.

Consider this Andrew Bynum, the refurbished edition; a few nicks here and there, but working just fine, much to the disappointment of the Utah Jazz who have no one to stand in his way.

The Lakers started 1-7 in the game to instantly fall behind to the Jazz. It appeared as if the Jazz had found their mojo and would finally break their 15-game losing streak at Staples Center. After missing 6 of their first 7 shots, however, the Lakers scored 6 straight points to tie it, then took the lead and never looked back.

It helped that they took the heart out of Utah by keeping the ball out of Deron Williams’ hands. He only managed 15 points on 4-16 shooting, though he did hand out 9 assists. In his place, the Jazz got strong performances from Paul Millsap (26 points), C.J. Miles (20 points), Carlos Boozer (20 points), but even though the Jazz got within four points of the Lakers’ quickly dissipated 15-point lead, there was just never a threat of the home team losing tonight’s game; not to this smallish Jazz team.

At the forefront of the Lakers’ 2-0 series lead were their three big men, Bynum, Gasol and Odom. Having combined for 50 points, 44 rebounds and 9 blocks, it’s safe to say they played well over the Jazz’s frontline offensively as well as defensively.

Three Lakers had double-doubles tonight and none of them were named Kobe Bryant. Bynum, looking spry and hiding his pain well, had 17 points on 7-9, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, a crucial one against Deron Williams late in the fourth quarter.

Gasol (despite his 6 turnovers) had 22 points on 7-11, 15 rebounds and two blocks. If there was ever a look of health on this Laker team, Gasol is it.

Odom, who seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time, had 11 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and 4 assists.

“I just try to do the small things,” Lamar Odom said. “A block shot here, a putback here, offensive rebounds here, and just try to add up, try to play an all-around game.”

It doesn’t get anymore “all-around” when it comes to Odom. He can score as easily as he can beat the opposing forward to a rebound. He can inbound, with precision, a pass that travels ¾ the length of the court to an open Ron Artest for an uncontested two points.

Not to be overshadowed was Kobe Bryant, who passes just as well as he can score. In the first half alone, he handed out 7 assists, mostly from drawing the double (and sometimes triple) teams and proceeding to pass to a cutting teammate for an easy lay-up or dunk. With 30 points from 10-22, Kobe’s offensive efficiency seems to be climbing with each game. A great sign for the Lakers, not so good for the opposing team.

In the first half alone, the Lakers scored 34 points on 12 lay-ups and 5 dunks — the majority belonging to the Big Three (not you Garnett, Pierce and Allen). By being able to reach higher than their opponents, the Lakers scored off their offensive rebounds as well as simply shooting above the Jazz. In one 4-second sequence, Carlos Boozer was blocked by Odom, and then again by Gasol on a second attempt. 4 seconds!

If the Lakers can come out as aggressively as they did tonight on defense (they kept the Jazz at 39.6% shooting and then 13 blocks!), as well as offense (they shot 50.6%), the next two games in Salt Lake City may not be so bad.

Exploit Jazz’s weaknesses by impressing your own strengths on them — that’s what the Lakers need to continue to do if they want to come back to Los Angeles next week with a favorable road record. A 2-2 tie would be a bit disappointing; a 3-1 lead would be preferable; a 4-0 homecoming would be perfection.

Pre-game Thoughts: Andrew Bynum plans to play through his injury. Hopefully he gets safe passage tonight.

Half-time Thoughts: 46-58, Lakers — The team is playing well but they can’t seem to stop turning the ball over. They have 9 already.

Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: 20 turnovers! It doesn’t get anymore thoughtless than that, especially when the road team only had 10.

Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were too much tonight. Together they collected 50 points, 44 rebounds, 9 blocks. WOW!

  • chr0matics

    Is it just me or are these Utah games boring? Even though the Jazz make short comebacks, I don’t feel any anxiety at all… In fact, I fell asleep during parts of the game. I miss the Thunder and the heart attacks.

    Oh well, go Lakers!!!

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      It’s funny. In both these two games against the Jazz, even though the Lakers lost the leads, I’d never feared they would lose. I don’t know if that’s arrogance but they just don’t seem to be sweating it as they were in the first round. I guess we have the Thunder to thank for that. No more heart attacks, please!

      • http://www.myspace.com/626bones Lakers 24 7

        Agreed. I never worried about the Jazz. We’ve dominated them for the past few seasons. The Thunder were able to make comebacks quick and stay in the game…not Utah. The Jazz just have no answer for our front court, and they really have nobody to guard Kobe, anymore. Matt Harpring has retired, and they traded Ronnie Brewer…and Kirelinko is sidelined.

      • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

        i dont think its arrogance but i think we see a pattern an right now the jazz dont have a guy that takes over an gets hot its sorta what we see is what we get.

  • Pac Div

    Fuk the Jazz!

  • trippleocho

    We really needed that Thunder series, because the beast has woken up. If we play the same way in Utah, this is a definite sweep.

  • justdogm1

    your soo right about the beast………..i mean kobes face.

    • lakers2000

      So has your boy Bron’s ass healed yet from it’s beating?

      • 242LakerFan

        How’s he supposed to know? It’s too hard to see with his head buried in it

  • lakerfan106

    is it me or kobe, gettin his legs back, and the dude is looking healthy

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      Kobe looks EXCELLENT! HE is the example of leadership on ANY team.

  • 242LakerFan

    Good job, Anna. You are getting more in-depth with these recaps and I am enjoying them very much.
    This was a really good all around game, but there were two things that bugged me. The turnovers you already touched on, but the other thing is the Lakers’ propensity for giving up offensive rebounds. It seems they just get outpositioned, even by smaller guys, and don’t even have a shot at some of them. It just worries me a little.

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      Thanks, this is a fun gig! =)
      But yes, other than the turnovers (Kobe and Pau were responsible for 13 of the 20!) and being unable to maintain the lead, there isn’t much to complain about. The Lakers did give up a lot of offensive rebounds, and Phil yelled at them about it after the first quarter. In the end, they did outrebound the Jazz by about 20, I think. Rebounds and defense will do it everytime!

  • Jazzman

    Wow! The Lakers protect home court. Who cares? They will lose the next two in Utah. Kobe gets credit for having a couple of assists and rebounds every one in a while. Lebron does that every damn game!!!! Wake up people!

    • http://thelakersnation.com/blog/category/original-articles/benchmob-beat/ Anna Gonda

      Aaaah Jazzman…commenting on things neither here nor there. Lebron gets credit for breathing, so what? Why don’t you worry about your boy Fresenko who couldn’t score on a dunk if he was standing inside the hoop?

      • lakerman1

        Tell him Anna. The guy is just looking for attention. He knows deep down inside the Jazz have no chance against the Lakers bigs. He can once again join his guys on their fishing trip. The Jazz may win Friday because of the crowd and then the Lakers will sweep the next two.

    • lakerman1

      Lebron gets away with traveling. That last game with Boston where he dribbles, stops and jumps with the ball is traveling. Even Barkely who is a Lebron Homer says Lebron will win more MVP awards if he is allowed to get away with moves like that.And stop dreaming Dude the Jazz are not the Thunder. The ahleticism hurt the lakers. The Jazz have none of that and they especially do not have size. They will win one and one only and then join the fishing crew after the Lakers close it out at Staples.

      • lakerman1

        And oh yeah we are awake, you should be talking to the your team. They certainly would put me to sleep.

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      SEE THIS FOOL IS NOT JIZZ HANDS HE’S LAFFSATYOU… YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE CELTICS!BEATING THE FUCK OUT OF CLEVLAND. LEBRON IS NOT IN THE SAME DISCUSSION AS KOBE WITH FOUR RINGS AN COUNTING HE’S GOT MORE RINGS THAN CLEVLAND AND UTAH PUT TOGETHER LOL I KNOW THAT BURNS YOUR ASS BUT THATS LIFE… ONLY KINGS HAVE RINGS KOBE= 4 CLEVLAND AND UTAH= 0 LOL OH! SHIT! THATS FUNNY! YOU SURE PICK SOME WINNERS!

  • lakeb

    this series is boring. im tired of seeing pau completely own boozer every night

    • lakerman1

      I’m not, i mean isn’t this what we have been looking for all season. Complete domiantion against smaller foes. Cmon admit it you are loving it.

      • lakerman1

        I meant domination LOL.

    • 242LakerFan

      If we had seen dominance like this on a regular basis throughout the regular season, then I would understand your point of view, but this is the kind of basketball game that this team was supposed to be playing all year. We saw some of it at the beginning of the season, but not nearly often enough in the last few months. This is the kind of domination we are supposed to have over teams like Utah and OKC. It’s refreshing to finally see it happening.
      I say give us some more. Ten more, to be exact!

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