Tag Archives: andrew bynum

Lakers’ physicality the key in Game 1 win over Celtics

Kobe and his teammates attacked the paint and pounded the Celtics on the boards in Game 1. (Pic via Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

There was a time when Pau Gasol wanted nothing better than to let his teammates do the dirty work. There was a time when he appeared to be genuinely afraid of Kevin Garnett.

Those times are only a distant memory now.

Gasol scored 23 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and even blocked three shots as the Lakers cruised to a 102-89 win over the Celtics in Game 1.

The game was won in the second and third quarters, when the Lakers turned up the intensity and began looking to run against the aging Celtics.

L.A. held a 42-31 edge on the boards and was able to get to the basket at will. The Lakers are the bigger team in the series, and also the more athletic team.

Boston needs to play harder and smarter to have a chance.

Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and eight assists, and had a +/- of -17. Meanwhile, Nate Robinson was scoreless in 13 minutes but had a +/- of +10. Amazingly, the Celtics offense looked better when Rondo was on the bench.

Rondo was content to settle for jump shots against Kobe Byrant’s sagging defense.

Kobe finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. He looked extremely fresh and active after another extended layoff.

Doc Rivers has some adjustments to make heading into Game 2. Kevin Garnett scored 16 points in 34 minutes but wasn’t very effective. He looked exhausted by the third quarter and struggled on both ends. Rivers needs to reduce his minutes a bit.

The same can be said for the wounded Kendrick Perkins, who was outplayed by the wounded Andrew Bynum. Perkins can barely get off the ground thanks to a balky knee.

Rasheed Wallace has played well when given a chance in the playoffs and should get starters minutes in the remainder of the NBA Finals. His shooting ability helps the Celtics space the floor for Rondo and Pierce to get to the basket.

The Celtics will look to bounce back Sunday in Game 2.

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Size Matters: Highlights of Lakers’ Game 2 win over Jazz

After two games, it’s clear that the Jazz simply have no answer for the Lakers’ size.

Pau Gasol scored 22 points, Andrew Bynum added 17 points to go along with 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Lamar Odom finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds off the bench as the Lakers held off a late rally by the Jazz for a 111-103 win.

The Lakers held a 58-40 advantage on the boards and blocked 13 shots in Game 2.

Kobe looked good for the second straight game, scoring 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting. More importantly, he had good lift, elevating on jump shots and exploding to the basket.

There is no question Kobe’s knee is worth paying attention to as this series continues.

The Jazz might need something drastic, like for instance an injury to Kobe or Pau Gasol, to have a chance in this series.

Carlos Boozer really struggles against bigger players. The absence of Andrei Kirilenko forces 6-4 Wes Matthews to check 6-8 Kobe Bryant. Undersized Paul Millsap can score against larger opponents, but gets killed on the boards.

One thing is certain: the Utah Jazz won’t go down without a fight.

This is Pau Gasol beating the Thunder

After watching the Thunder give the Lakers all they could handle, there obviously wasn’t much of a difference between the two teams. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are the reason the Lakers survived Round One against the upstart Thunder.

Gasol tipped-in Kobe Bryant’s miss with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 95-94 win over the Thunder Friday in front a frenzied OKC crowd.

After dominating Game 5, Bynum and Gasol were quiet for much of game six. Bynum tallied six points and four rebounds while Gasol finished with just nine points but grabbed 18 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant scored 16 of his 32 points in the third quarter to help the Lakers fight off a pesky Thunder team.

Kevin Durant had another miserable shooting game, finishing with 26 points on just 5-of-23 shooting. Russell Westbrook put himself on the map by dominating the Lakers at times throughout the series. He scored 21 points and dished out nine assists in Game 6, committing no turnovers in 42 minutes.

The future is bright for Oklahoma City, which has a ton of cap space and two blossoming superstars. Chris Bosh is rumored to have serious interest in joining the Thunder, regardless of where LeBron ends up.

Things won’t get any easier for Kobe and the Lakers, who will have to scrap and claw to survive in the West.

Durant keeps on shining while Oden rides the pine

The Blazers decision to pass on Durant and select Oden looks worse with every passing day. (Pic via everyjoe.com)

Kevin Durant dropped 33 and 11 last night in what is becoming a rather typical game for him these days. But last night’s performance was a little bit unique for several reasons.

Durant led the Thunder–the playoff bound Thunder–to an easy win over the wounded Blazers last night in Portland, reminding everyone just how good he has become while Greg Oden continues to recover from yet another injury.

He has now scored at least 25 points in 25 straight games, the third-longest streak of all-time, and the longest since Allen Iverson’s steak of 27 straight games for the Sixers in the 2000-2001 season.

Then this morning came the announcement that Durant was invited to the USA Basketball training camp this summer. An appearance on the USA squad in the World Championship and Olympic Games could lead to even more improvement from the 21 year-old.

This isn’t the first time the Blazers have watched a player they passed on rise to astounding heights. Everybody knows about Sam Bowie, but not everybody knows just how stupid drafting him really was.

Let’s flashback to 1984, when the Blazers decide to draft Sam Bowie after the Rockets nab Akeem Olajuwon with the first pick. Bowie suffered serious shin injuries in college and averaged–brace yourself–a whopping 10 ppg and 9 rpg during his final year at Kentucky after missing two seasons while recovering from injury.

The Blazers drafted Clyde Drexler in 1983, which has long been used as an excuse to pass on Michael Jordan. Drexler supposedly showed flashes during his rookie season, but ultimately finished with modest numbers to say the least: 7.7 ppg in 18 mpg while appearing in all 82 games.

Jordan’s talents had been kept under wraps somewhat by Dean Smith, but his raw ability was obvious–just watch some old UNC games on ESPN Classic and you can see it.

The similarities between the 1984 and 2007 are striking. The Blazers had a need at center in both years, but passed on supremely talented wing players.

If you watched much college hoops during the 2006-2007 season, you would have recognized the better player and prospect. Durant was handling the ball, crashing the glass, putting up ridiculous numbers like 38 and 19 while dominating what was a very competitive Big 12.

Meanwhile, Oden was owning the paint in the Big Ten despite playing left-handed for much of the season. But Oden had a deep, talented group around him and faced almost no competition from other big men in the league. The best inside player in the Big Ten not named Oden was Indiana’s D.J. White. Yikes.

So just sit back and imagine some scenarios:

Put Jordan alongside Drexler and Terry Porter, add a young Jerome Kersey, Cliff Robinson, and Kevin Duckworth and you give Showtime a run for its money and dominate the West by the early 90’s.

Put Durant in a good system with Brandon Roy, wait a couple years for Kobe and Duncan to age, and you have the Western Conference on lock for years to come. The void at center? Joel Pryzbilla is adequate to begin with, and defending against Andrew Bynum and Chris Kaman shouldn’t be a huge concern.

Durant’s potential is scary. He is two or three inches taller than LeBron, already one of the better shooters in the league, and still learning how to play. If he finds that killer instict Jordan and Bird had from the start and Kobe came to develop, he will go down as one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Oden seems like a good kid and a relatively hard worker, but leg injuries to someone that size are likely to linger. Unless he pulls a Benjamin Button, it seems doubtful Oden will have much of an impact in the NBA.

The Blazers clearly screwed up–again.

Lakers overwhelm sluggish Magic in Game 5 to capture 15th title

Strong performances from Gasol and Ariza in Game 5 helped Kobe win his first title as the main man.

Strong performances from Gasol and Ariza in Game 5 helped Kobe win his first title as the main man.

Kobe Bryant got plenty of help from his teammates throughout the finals as he continued his quest to win a title sans Shaq. Another balanced effort by the supporting cast Sunday night helped Kobe and the Lakers win the NBA Championship with a 99-86 win over Orlando in Game 5.

Kobe was named MVP after averaging 32.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 7.4 apg in the finals. His control and leadership in the series boosted his already-impressive resume.

Meanwhile, the Magic wilted after a strong start. Trevor Ariza keyed a 16-0 run midway through the second quarter that catapulted the Lakers into the lead. Lamar Odom’s back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter pushed the Laker lead to 11 and put the game out of reach.

Dwight Howard showed no signs of the ferocious play he displayed in Game 4. Ariza dominated Hedo Turkgolu, who scored a quiet 12 points in what could end up being his last game with the Magic. Rafer Alston, also perhaps playing his final game with the team, responded to increased playing time by launching shots at every opportunity. Jameer Nelson was even more aggressive; the duo shot a combined 7-22.

Stan Van Gundy had to be disappointed in his team, which played with almost no energy or intelligence in the second half.

Kobe led the way in Game 5 with a workmanlike 30 points, but Odom’s 17 points and Ariza’s 15 keyed the victory.

Phil Jackson claimed his 10 NBA title and could choose to finally walk away from the game at age 62. Or maybe he will hook up with LeBron in a couple years to go for No. 11.

Next year is right around the corner.

Stay tuned for highlights and the postgame press conference.

Kobe works Magic in Game 1 of the Disney Series

Bynum didn't put up huge numbers in Game 1, but did a great job defending Dwight Howard.

Bynum didn't put up huge numbers in Game 1, but did a great job defending Dwight Howard.

As good as LeBron has become, Kobe Bryant showed why he is still the best player in the game.

Kobe scored 40 points, grabbed eight boards, and dished out eight assists to lead the Lakers to an impressive 100-75 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Bryant got off to a good start against Courtney Lee, then kept right on rolling against Mickael Pietrus. He attacked Lee in the post and used his mid-range jumper to score repeatedly against Pietrus.

The Magic played awful.

Dwight Howard made just one basket – a hook shot in the first quarter – and finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. He didn’t play well defensively either, as the Lakers scored 56 points in the point.

Hedo Turkgolu and Rashard Lewis struggled all night. Orlando shot a woeful 29 percent from the field in the game.

Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum helped the Lakers dominate the boards, finishing with a 55-41 advantage.

The big story coming from this game was the return of Jameer Nelson.

Nelson got off to a good start, entering the game in the second quarter and dishing out four assists in his first four minutes. However, the Magic were outscored by 12 with him on the floor in the first half. Rafer Alston had an awful game, but was only -6 in the game compared to Nelson’s -19.

Stan Van Gundy went with his heart instead of his head in deciding not to play Anthony Johnson behind Alston.

The Magic probably won’t shoot this poorly again, but need to shore up inside play. Orlando wasn’t a good rebounding team in the regular season and doesn’t give Howard much help on the glass.

Stan Van Gundy hates double-teaming, so don’t expect him to double Kobe in Game 2. He needs to make adjustments to better defend Kobe off the pick n’ roll.

I hope Game 2 is closer and more exciting. I enjoyed the broadcast on ABC – I thought Jeff Van Gundy did a great job of being objective throughout the broadcast even while watching his little brother get his ass kicked.

Game highlights and postgame reaction still to come.

NBA Finals preview: It’s all about the matchups

Kobe is poised to prove all the haters wrong.

Kobe is poised to prove all the haters wrong.

The NBA Finals get underway Thursday and will feature plenty of compelling storylines to watch as the series unfolds. NBA basketball is always about the matchups – lets take a look at how Lakers and Magic matchup in this series.

Kobe Bryant vs. Courtney Lee, Mickael Pietrus

The Black Mamba goes for his first title sans Shaq but has his work cut out for him against Mickael Pietrus. I’ve never seen anybody check LeBron as well as Pietrus did, and his size and athleticism will give Kobe trouble. Whether or not you think LeBron is a better player than Kobe, there is no question Kobe is a smarter offensive player and a much, much better shooter than LeBron.

Pietrus let LeBron shoot from the perimeter, something he cannot afford to do against Kobe, who is also a better post player than LeBron. I expect Bryant to have a big series.

Advantage: Lakers

Dwight Howard, Marcin Gortat vs. Andrew Bynum

Superman looked brilliant against the Cavs, scoring on a variety of moves around the basket and hitting his free throws. The Lakers have no answer for Howard on the defensive end. Bynum has looked awful for the most part this postseason, and needs to attack Howard inside to stay on the floor.

The big key for Howard is staying out of foul trouble. He figures to guard Pau Gasol throughout the series. Gasol’s craftiness and ability to play in the high-post could create problems for the Magic. Marcin Gortat could get some run in the finals to keep Howard in the lineup.

Howard won’t dominate like he did in the Eastern Conference Finals, but clearly has the edge against the Lake Show.

Advantage: Magic

Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton vs. Hedo Turkgolu

The Michael Jordan of Turkey (as Chris Webber likes to call Hedo) had his way against the Cavs – mainly because he was being defended by 6’2″ Delonte West. Things are about to change.

Turkgolu is really talented, but the Lakers can throw three defenders at him. Ariza is long and difficult to shoot over. Odom can be a great defender when he wants to and is actually an inch taller than the 6’9″ Turkgolu. Walton is strong and defended Carmelo Anthony better than any other Laker in the West Finals.

Advantage: Lakers

Rashard Lewis vs. Pau Gasol, Odom, Walton

Lewis had a big series against Cleveland because of matchups. Now, he faces an difficult task: Defend Pau Gasol. Although Howard figures to check Gasol for much of the series, Lewis will play Gasol at times. He is not big enough to battle inside against the Lakers, and doesn’t like to play physical.

Walton and Odom can shadow Lewis on the perimeter, making it difficult for him to get the kind of looks he got against Cleveland.

Odom’s scoring and rebounding could be the X-factor in the series

Advantage: Lakers

Rafer Alston, Anthony Johnson, Jameer Nelson vs. Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown

Alston played well against Cleveland, actually making some shots from the perimeter. I don’t expect his hot shooting to continue. Jameer Nelson’s return makes things complicated for Stan Van Gundy. He will face pressure to play Nelson even though he is far from ready to return.

Derek Fisher is nearing the end of the line. Anything he provides in this series is a bonus. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown will see plenty of action and have the ability to pressure Alston, Nelson, and Anthony Johnson.

Advantage: Wash

Coaching and other intangibles

Stan Van Gundy has done a helluva job this postseason, but Phil Jackson is seeking a 10th NBA title. It might seem like Jackson does little actual coaching during games, but he has a supreme understanding of taking advantage of matchups.

Both teams have the potential to get road wins, so home court for the Lakers won’t be much of an advantage. The 2-3-2 format gives the edge to the Magic if it can steal one of the first two games in L.A.

The Magic won both meetings with the Lakers in the regular season, thanks in large part to Jameer Nelson’s 27.5 ppg. Both teams have a different look now, so the two Magic victories has little impact on the outcome of this series.

Advantage: Wash

Prediction

The Magic haven’t faced a team with the kind of balance and depth the Lakers have this postseason.  If Gasol plays aggresively, I don’t think the Magic will be able to guard him.  Howard may have won the defensive player of the year, but he has lapses defensively and isn’t a great 1-on-1 defender.  Kobe won’t have many more chances to win a title, and I expect him to be huge in this series.

All games will be close, but I can’t see Orlando winning more than twice in this series. I like the Lakers in five games.

Stay tuned for more NBA Finals coverage all day here on TTT