Tag:Andrew Bynum
Posted on: March 31, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 11:54 am
 

Lakers wary of Grizzlies, Blazers in playoffs

An informal poll of the Lakers shows they're concerned about the Grizzlies and Blazers. As much as they're going to be concerned about anyone. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Asking NBA players who they want to see in the first round is pointless. Why would you possibly say you want to see one team, giving them material to mount an incomparable emotional challenge based off the oldest of athlete emotions: pride? Why would you possibly indicate that you don't want to see a team in the first round, giving them a mental edge when they recognize that you're "afraid" of them? There's nothing to be won or negotiated with that question. It's better to deflect or give the standard array of non-answers everyone gives. 

But the Lakers, when presented with the opportunity to give an informal poll, their answers unattributed to their name? They bit. 

From the Los Angeles Times
Based on the four players who were willing to trade their honesty in exchange for anonymity, three of them equally expressed concern about Portland and Memphis, while one other believed the Grizzlies would be the toughest opponent. Meanwhile, Lakers executive Magic Johnson spoke pretty frankly before the Lakers' 102-84 victory Sunday over New Orleans about which potential first-round opponent would give the Lakers the most trouble: Portland, because of the "hate factor," he said.

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Johnson said Sunday, walking in a corridor underneath Staples Center. "That would be a very physical and tough series, even though we would win and we're better overall. But they really know how to play us; they're well-coached and they're tenacious."
via Lakers informal poll reveals their belief Portland and Memphis would give them biggest challenge in first round | Lakers Blog | Los Angeles Times.

It's surprising that the Lakers chose to answer the question. It's more surprising that they were honest. It's even more surprising that they were correct. 

The Lakers are rarely if ever beasts in the first round. It takes them a few games to hit the playoff gear. But they're still good enough to overcome obstacles. Still, if you're going to upset L.A., it's going to have to be in that first round. From then on out, they're in that mode they have that that, you know, wins championships. And the only thing they hate more than getting their playoff effort in gear is having to do so against a scrappy, high-effort team, like the Blazers or Grizzlies. 

The Blazers, despite a much longer rivalry and a superior record, actually suffers more in the matchup. Despite LaMarcus Aldridge's superb and All-Star-worthy season, it's Zach Randolph's gritty, ugly, "how did he do that" work down low that is particularly effective against L.A.'s enormous size and length advantage. Marc Gasol is outplayed by his brother in the stats department because Pau Gasol is very good. But it's Marc's bulk and toughness that gives the Lakers issues, along with his ability to pass from the post and high pinch post. Mike Conley slices and dices Derek Fisher, one of the few guards in the league who can't torch Conley on perimeter drives. And the Grizzlies have enough wings to throw at Kobe Bryant to at least have a puncher's chance at slowing him down.

The Blazers on the other hand have Camby and Aldridge, but struggle defensively against the Lakers in matchups, as has been evident this year. But there's no matchup that accounts for the Blazers' ability to rise to the occasion, which they've illustrated time and time again during Nate McMillan's tenure. Either team is simply going to be a major headache that could turn into a legitimate challenge for the Lakers if a few things go their opponents' way. 

But then, the Lakers also know that if they play their best, execute, and focus, they're going to roll. That's what good teams do in the first round, it's really what great teams do in the first round, and it's definitely what championships do in the first round. This doesn't mean that the Lakers are afraid of the Blazers or Grizzlies, just that they recognize the dangers those teams represent. 

Which of course means that the Lakers are not afraid of the New Orleans Hornets. Who they could very well see in the first round. Chances are the Hornets use that as some motivation should the two meet in the first round. 

This is why you don't answer the question.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 8:31 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 8:35 am
 

Kobe Bryant 'proud' of Andrew Bynum's dirty foul

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant says he is proud of center Andrew Bynum's hard foul. Posted by Ben Golliver. kobe-bynum

Over the weekend, we noted that Los Angeles Lakers big man Andrew Bynum was suspended without pay for two games by the NBA for a hard foul he delivered on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. Bynum met Beasley in the air, made no real attempt on the ball and sent Beasley crashing to the floor. It was a play straight out of Rick Mahorn's playbook.

That type of mindless thuggery might rub some people the wrong way, but it didn't bother Lakers star Kobe Bryant. On the contrary, reports the Los Angeles Times, Bryant was pleased to see it.
Not all the Lakers were upset with the league's decision. "I'm proud of him," Kobe Bryant said of Bynum. "He earned his stripes."
Bynum is in a weird spot with the Lakers for two reasons. One: he's younger and noticeably less mature than the rest of the team's core. Two: he's almost always the biggest player on the court. That combination leaves Bynum open to all sorts of criticism from fans (and teammates) if Los Angeles gives up too many points in the paint or if the Lakers get outrebounded.

In short, Bynum is a big, easy target for criticism. If the Lakers don't own the middle, it's his fault.

Bryant's positive reinforcement of dangerous behavior isn't really the best look, but it makes sense in context because the Lakers, like most contenders, feel that interior dominance is the key factor to playoff success. Pau Gasol is who he is: long and lean, not strong and mean. Lakers forwards Lamar Odom and Ron Artest are great at physically dominating their match-ups and getting inside opponents' heads, but they're not capable of the kind of space-eating intimidation that Bynum is.

This situation, then, becomes less about the actual foul and more about the fact that Bynum showed he was capable of delivering some pain. Had this play happened in the postseason and cost Bynum multiple playoff games, the cheerleading wouldn't be nearly as loud. The excitement today comes from the idea that Bynum, perhaps, has a reputation now. 

And, like it or not, reputations can influence players' decisions and, in turn, can influence games.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 8:17 am
 

Shootaround 3.21.11: Andrew Bynum apologizes

Andrew Bynum apologizes, DeMarcus Cousins contacted an official, Marcus Camby sprained an ankle, the Denver Nuggets are selling tickets and a whole lot more. Posted by Ben Golliver. shootaround
  • The New York Knicks, in desperate need of a big man, continue to be linked in rumors to big man Earl Barron, who may be released by the Milwaukee Bucks. The latest rumor comes from the New York Post.
  • Miami Heat president Pat Riley tells the Palm Beach Post that all the stories about his team have been written and that it's time to "forget about all the prognostication."
Posted on: March 19, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 5:08 pm
 

Lakers C Bynum suspended 2 games for flagrant

The NBA has suspended Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum for his flagrant foul 2 on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver. 

Update (Sunday): The NBA announced on Sunday that it has suspended Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum for two games for his flagrant foul 2 on Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lakers coach Phil Jackson was not particularly excited about it.
"I thought two games was excessive, but who knows?" Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "Like I said [Saturday], you never know. There's no standard. There's nothing to go by. It's all subjective."
Bynum will miss Sunday night's game in Los Angeles against the Portland Trail Blazers and Tuesday's game in Los Angeles against the Phoenix Suns. Bynum will return on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Original Post:
Some have called Laker big man Andrew Bynum soft. Some have said he needs to get meaner. Potentially in an effort to do just that, Bynum clocked Michael Beasley with an elbow Friday night in Los Angeles.

Bynum was immediately hit with a Flagrant foul 2 and was ejected. By rule, Bynum will have to serve a one-game suspension for the foul as well.



It was an obvious dirty foul and a no-brainer for the officiating crew. Stuff happens on the court when guys are moving fast so a lot of times I tend to give the benefit of the doubt, but there's no question here. Mainly because, why would Bynum use his elbow to defend Beasley when, you know, he's a shot blocking seven-footer?

All Bynum has to do is put his arms up and he's automatically a presence. There's just no reason for him to go flying at Beasley with a wing out. I watched the replay 10 or 15 times and I just can't figure out the purpose for Bynum doing that. It honestly doesn't make sense. Initially, he looks like he's trying to avoid contact, but then it's like he says, "Ah, screw it," and throws that big elbow out.

It was a dangerous play as Beasley was in the air and because of the contact, went sprawling out toward the floor, Luckily, nobody was injured. I'm all for hard fouls because there's nothing wrong with going hard into someone, as long as it's a clean, safe play. This definitely wasn't.

I'm sure the NBA is reviewing the foul and will determined if it should be upheld, but I imagine it will. The Lakers next game is against the Blazers Sunday.

Posted on: March 11, 2011 12:28 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 12:54 am
 

What to remember from Lakers-Heat II

The Heat win a big one as the entire team steps up, while Kobe Bryant shows what makes him great, and frustrating, after the game. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Let's get this out the way. 

While this game was one that the Lakers genuinely cared about (as evidenced by the kind of effort given by both the players and Phil Jackson, who not only actively coached, but yelled at officials standing up, and called timeouts), it does not "matter." The Heat is still unlikely to face the Lakers again this season with both Chicago (0-2) and Boston (0-2) somewhere in their spring future. Had the Lakers won, it would not be a death knell on the Heat's future. This is not a conviction of the Lakers' season. 

But it was a great game, and it was one in which there were things that made zero sense, and some that made all the sense in the entire world. 




What we'll remember from this game

The Heat gave everything: We'd waited all season for them to rise to a moment, and they finally did. Wade diving on the floor for a loose ball, chucking it to James for a dunk so hard he wound up in the second row of photographers. It was effort from start to finish, and it was impressive, despite some terrible shooting performances. 

Dwyane Wade rose to the moment: I couldn't get over how terrible Dwyane Wade looked for the first 36 minutes of the game. He was losing balls unforced out of bounds off the dribble. He was missing wide-open spot-up threes. He was playing as he had in every big game for the Heat this year. Then suddenly, it all fell into place and Dwyane Wade, the Dwyane Wade who's an NBA champion, an MVP candidate, one of the best shooting guards in the history of the game stepped up and made the plays he needed to make to win the game. It was a definite redemption after the last three weeks of struggle, and something the Heat badly needed. James did his job, Wade did his job, capitalized on the opportunities, and perhaps most importantly, didn't settle from the outside. He attacked, and the result was shots at the rim. Wade's final eight-minute stretch? Eight points on 4-7 shooting, 2 offensive rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, 1 turnover. 

Chris Bosh shutting everyone up: Chris Bosh was supposed to struggle in the post. He was supposed to be the weak link. And he has for most of the year. But against the Lakers, he was everything he said he would be. He hit the post-turnaround over bigger defenders, he grabbed 9 boards, he worked hard at both ends, played aggressive, smart, and led the Heat in scoring. Chris Bosh was the best player for the Heat the whole night through. Who saw that coming?

Wasted Advantage Down Low: Andrew Bynum was 4-5 from the field, and 5-6 from the stripe for 13 points. That's some pretty incredible efficiency. Pau Gasol was 8-16 and 4-5 from the line. Not as stunning, but pretty good. Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, and Ron Artest were 14-37. You'd think that at some point, with the Heat trotting out Juwan Howard, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, that someone with the Lakers would say "Hey, maybe we should throw it to one of the really tall guys." It's not that their success is guaranteed, it's that it just seems like something that may have helped. The rebounding, though, that's all on the bigs. Outrebounded 46-37, with the Heat enjoying five more offensive boards. The Lakers did not bring their best efforts on the glass, worried too much about shutting down the Triad. 

Support players stepping up and down: The Heat bench outscored the Lakers' 22-16, something few saw coming. Mike Miller was in effect. The Heat badly needed a role player to step up in the first quarter, and it was Mario Chalmers, with three big 3-pointers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas wound up a +16 on the night. That's just an impressive overall performance for a squad that's been mocked, derided, and questioned all seasons. Against one of the stronger units, they stepped up and were a huge part of the Heat win. 

Kobe Bryant after-hours: Is there a more iconic image of Bryant? In a game that featured a terrible shooting performance from him, where he turned the ball over late, where he hoisted 35-foot 3-pointers into the air, ignoring any semblance of an offensive system, he returns an hour after the game to work on his jumper. This is Kobe Bryant, the most feared player in the NBA, determined to work on the very shots that should never have been taken, confident that if he works hard enough, they'll fall, because they've fallen before. Maybe they fell because he was younger, stronger, but he'll never approach the game that way and his fans will never want him to. They'll want him doing exactly what he did Thursday night, work on his game until his blood's run dry, even if that game isn't what Phil Jackson wants, the Lakers need, or his body requires. As for why he says he did it? "This is (his) job." He'll focus on those shots he missed, never considering that maybe he should have created, should have worked in the flow of the offense, should have been a part of the engine as opposed to the sole operator. He's won five championships because of this, he may win his sixth because of this, and he'll be simultaneously revered and reviled because of it. Some will say it's what sets him apart from LeBron James even as James got the win. Others will say it's an attention-grabbing stunt, even as he never informed media he'd be there or paid any attention to them. Kobe Bryant will always be the player we can never agree on, can never let go of.  He's too determined, too stubborn, too brilliant, too frustrating. But at the end of the day, he's got his rings, and a great chance at another. For one night, however, he's got that gym, and his thoughts. 

The Heat have the win. 
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:54 pm
 

5 Things to Watch: Lakers at Heat

Lakers travel to Miami to take on the Heat Thursday night. Here are 5 things to keep an eye out for during the battle of the hype machines. 
Posted by Matt Moore




This game feels weird to look at. On the one hand, it should be a Lakers cakewalk. They're on a monstrous roll, destorying everything in their path, while the Heat are in the depths of a downright pathetic losing streak, continuously failing out of close games thanks to their own ineptitude. The Lakers have Andrew Bynum at the Heat's weakest position and Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol match up favorably with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Pau Gasol. But the Heat won on Christmas in impressive fashion, the game is in Miami (though it's not like that's a huge homecourt advantage), and the Lakers are due to stop caring about the regular season again at any second. I'm leaning strongly towards a Lakers blowout, but that just seems too obvious. Regardless, here's five things to watch as the champs take on the hype when the Lakers meet the Heat Thursday night. 

1. Chris Bosh Like A Low-Post Virgin: Chris Bosh says he needs more touches in the low-post. We've gone over why this is a bad idea. But it should be mentioned that Bosh had a lot of inside looks in the Christmas Day game, and played very well, while Andrew Bynum had 18 ineffective minutes. So it's possible Bosh could be on to something, particularly when it comes to this game, in regards to giving him a shot in the low-post. Forgive us if we're a bit skeptical about his ability to take on a healthy Bynum and Gasol when fully engaged, especially when he's in one of the worst slumps of his career. The big question will be if the Heat actually adopt such a strategy, placing their trust in the third best of the Triad to make the plays necessary on offense to control the game. Somehow it's hard to see LeBron James or Dwyane Wade getting fewer perimeter possessions so that Bosh can go to work in the block. But at this point, is there anything not worth trying?

Lakers at Heat
2. Mamba Killing: Kobe Bryant has been on a tear, looking like, well, Kobe Bryant since the All-Star break. The whole repertoire has been in effect, including the shake-and-bake fadeaway, the drive and kick pull-up jumper, and the baseline spin floater off the glass. All the greatest hits, essentially. The question tonight will be how the Heat guard him. Typically, they sick Dywane Wade on Bryant and don't bring help, but Byrant's been hot enough that may not be possible. The best option may honestly be to put LeBron James on him and hope the Lakers don't immediately put Lamar Odom in the post versus either Wade or Mike Miller. Otherwise, the Heat have to be ready with help defense on Bryant, particularly at the elbow where he does a ton of damage. 

3. Empty Bench Syndrome: The Lakers are going to get production out of their bench. They just are. Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, even Steve Blake and Matt Barnes will get some level of production. The Heat are going to lose the bench scoring match, there's no question on that. But how much is the issue. If Mario Chalmers can come in and provide a decent amount of scoring, just double digits, it will help a lot. Mike Miller needs to come out of his shooting slump, but that doesn't seem likely, especially if he's guarded by either Artest, Bryant, or Lamar Odom (who will eat him alive, physically). In the first matchup, Zydrunas Ilgauskas did a good job of spreading the floor. He could help things Thursday by knocking down a few mid-range jumpers to get the pressure off Bosh inside and open up the lanes a bit. 

4. Dynamite by Bynum: See how I didn't go for the "Bynum-ite" joke there? That's professional, baby. Anyway, in this case it's more than just a rhyming phrase. Bynum can literally blow up the Heat defensively if he goes to work. They have no one that can guard him, in any way, shape, or form, and if he get active and gets room and trust to work, he could destroy that team deep in the post. There's no one to keep him off the offensive glass, and he's going to have great matchups to get his hooks and jumpers going. This could be a huge night for Bynum, if the Lakers decide to go to him early and often, and provided his knee is feeling up to par. 

5. Desperate measures: This has to be considered a must-win game for the Heat. It's imperative that they win this game, just to get themselves some breathing room from the media and their own fans. But that means they have to play like it. The biggest issue for the Heat this year has been playing with urgency and cohesion. They've played without energy, without passion, and without focus in the moments they've needed it most. We have no reason to suspect they'll have it Thursday night against the Lakers, but that's really theire only chance to get this game, to want it more than the Lakers. Someone on that team is going to have to step up and lead. Will anyone?
Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Shaquille O'Neal out indefinitely with sore foot

Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaq-asw

Update: The Boston Globe reports on Monday that O'Neal will miss at least a week.
Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal, plagued by various nagging injuries, has played in just 36 games this season and hasn't made an appearance since February 1.

CSNNE.com reports that O'Neals absence will continue indefinitely due to "right foot soreness."  
The Celtics have no idea when the 7-foot-1 center, who turned 39 years old Sunday, will return to action. When asked about O'Neal and a likely return date, coach Doc Rivers acknowledged he had no idea. "[O'Neal] worked out with us the other day," Rivers said. "Some of the pain returned."
Rivers spoke with Ed Lacerte, the team's head trainer. "Eddie just said don't expect him anytime soon," Rivers said.
The Celtics haven't missed a beat in O'Neal's absence, or anyone else's for that matter. Boston has seen virtually every member of its rotation miss time due to injury this season - and they recently traded starting center Kendrick Perkins - but it hasn't impacted their ability to roll through the regular season. 

Without O'Neal, the Celtics have played more small ball as they work to integrate center Nenad Krstic (acquired for Perkins) and free agent big man Troy Murphy, who was signed to bolster their frontcourt depth. As of Monday, the Celtics sat atop the Eastern Conference with a sparkling 46-15 record.

O'Neals numbers have taken a big hit this year - he's averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.7 minutes - and the end is fast approaching. At this point of the season and at this juncture of the 39 year old O'Neal's career, it's naive to maintain hope that he will be in tip top shape come playoff time. With that said, his raw size and ability to give fouls against guys like Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Andrew Bynum would be a huge asset for Rivers. But Boston's roster is as asset-rich as any in the league, even with a sidelined Shaq. 
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:34 am
 

Lakers play their part as the drama continues

Lakers take a big game from banged-up Celtics, prove the worth of Bynum. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Come now, Boston. You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?

The Lakers did their part in furthering the drama towards the inevitable Thursday night, downing the Celtics 92-86 in Boston. Each team has a win on one another's home floor. Each has a championship over the other since 2008. Each features aging superstars trying to pull one more run out of the struggle of injury and the grind of the 82-game season. In Los Angeles, it was Celtics execution overcoming the one-man Kobe show. In Boston? It was Bryant, looping baseline, drawing the double and dropping off to Pau Gasol, then working Ray Allen over like he was some rook on his way to the dagger elbow jumper. 

Even again. 

And now it's the Celtics left questioning themselves. Where is the offense going to come from? Why is Paul Pierce having so many turnovers in the clutch this year? How on Earth are the Celtics, even when Shaq and/or Jermaine O'Neal get back going to counter the Lakers' size, should they choose not to dish Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony

And for the Lakers, the ultimate case of reassurance. They weren't just lost, just bored. They weren't out of sync, just lying in wait. This win, even over a banged-up Celtics squad proves that the concerns about the Lakers were unfounded. They're fine. They're focused, when they need to be, and they will be there in June, waiting for Boston to survive the Eastern Conference gauntlet. 

If Jim Buss was searching for some sign to prompt him to move Bynum in the Melo deal, it did not come tonight. Instead he found a team that simply is taller, longer, and more obstructive to the opponents' efforts in the paint with Bynum, and that is their biggest strength. Kobe Bryant is a killer, there's no question about that. But the Lakers thrive on being able to capture offensive rebound after offensive rebound, like the one that lead to the reset and Kobe-elbow-jumper to end it. The highlight reel will show Bryant breaking Allen's ankles (while Rajon Rondo simply watches for some reason, instead of comitting to the help-and-recover).  But the play was set up by the Lakers size providing them an offensive rebound. 

Sure, there was some voodoo going on with L.A., the usual Phil Jackson mind games. But the aesthetics are just a backdrop to the cold hard truth. The Celtics have to try and overcome physical advantage with mental effort. And while a victory of that sort may feel better than the alternative, it is because it is so much more difficult. Shaq may have made an impact. J.O. may have made an impact. But we saw Bynum make an impact, and we saw a Celtics team that just ran out of steam, much like it did in Game 7. 

The first game is not to be forgotten, however. In truth, these two teams are simply evenly matched. They are the best two teams, top to bottom, in the NBA. And once again, with their next meeting likely in June, these two are right back where they started. Even. 
 
 
 
 
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