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Bynum’s triple-double, NBA playoff record 10 blocked shots lead Lakers to Game 1 rout of Nuggets

Apr 29, 2012, 8:02 PM EST

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Before the Lakers opened the playoffs at home against the Nuggets on Sunday, George Karl was asked at the beginning of his press conference if he thought his team had a chance. He responded by saying, “The first question and the arrogance of L.A. comes forth,” which was followed by laughs all around.

It turned out to be a legitimate question.

Denver looked completely over-matched in Game 1, and thanks to a triple-double effort of 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots from Andrew Bynum, the Lakers cruised to a 103-88 victory that was truly never in doubt.

If Bynum brings anywhere close to the focus and intensity he did in this one on the defensive end of the floor, the result of the series won’t be in doubt, either.

Denver’s strength offensively had been using Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo to get into the paint and create open looks for themselves and for their teammates. The Nuggets have also thrived in fast-paced games, and excel when you allow them to get out in transition. Because of Bynum’s presence in the paint — along with strong efforts from Pau Gasol and reserve Jordan Hill on the glass — there was none of that on Sunday.

Denver’s starting guards each finished 3-of-11 from the field, and were complete non-factors.

“To me, the difference in this game was Andrew Bynum,” Lakers head coach Mike Brown said afterward. “He could control a game without shooting a single shot if he wanted to. He could literally control the game without shooting a shot — that’s how good he is.

“He brought some added juice to the table to where his impact on the game was monstrous. He was an absolute beast down there.”

Bynum was a problem for the Nuggets to deal with on seemingly every possession. His 10 blocked shots tied an NBA playoff record shared by Hakeem Olajuwon and Mark Eaton, and set a new Lakers playoff record that had been previously held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The triple-double was the first for the Lakers in a playoff game since Magic Johnson’s in the 1991 NBA Finals.

“On defense, it’s about heart,” Bynum said afterward. “You can stop anybody if you really move your feet, and really get down, but a lot of players don’t want to do it on a consistent basis; they only want to do it when they have to. But tonight I felt like we were up on the pick and roll, and the guards were having a hard time coming off of it. And offensively, we took a lot of shots that were in the paint, and when we do that it’s harder for teams to run, especially with (Pau Gasol) and (Jordan Hill) offensive rebounding.”

On the offensive end, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 31 points, but 12 of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was already well in hand. Devin Ebanks (starting in place of the suspended Metta World Peace) and Steve Blake were the ones that got L.A. going early, thanks mainly to Denver’s strategy of doubling the Lakers’ bigs hard in the post whenever they touched the ball.

The Lakers spaced the floor, moved the ball, and the seldom-used Ebanks and the up-and-down Blake made them pay seemingly every single time.

“We know Denver is doubling, and they’re going to double from all over the place, and they’re doubling quick, and they’re going to double hard,” Brown said. “We have to make sure that we space the floor very well and we move the ball at the right time without turning it over, making the easy pass to the open guy and let them make the assist versus the double team because we know it’s coming on a lot of our guys — from (Pau Gasol), to Andrew, to Kobe.”

Counting on role-players to consistently knock down shots might not be the best long-term strategy — especially on the road, and certainly against some higher-quality opponents later in the postseason. But defense is something you can build a foundation upon, and in Game 1, Bynum was the cornerstone of that effort.

“He was phenomenal tonight, and if he continues to play like he did, picking up the triple-double, being the kind of monster he was tonight patrolling that paint, we’ll be playing a long time,” Brown said.

“It’s not pressure, it’s just the truth,” Bynum said, when told his coach said that if he played like he did today that the Lakers would be in for a long playoff run. “If I come out and play defense, this team is a lot better. … I think today was a good showing that we’re a versatile team and we’re a deep team.”

Bryant summed up the Lakers’ long-term prospects more succinctly.

“We’re a championship-caliber team,” he said.

It’s one game, of course, and Denver will make adjustments as the series goes along. But there is no answer for what Andrew Bynum did defensively on Sunday, and if anywhere near that type of effort is delivered by the Lakers’ center on a consistent basis in these playoffs, the Nuggets won’t be the only team left wondering if they even have a chance.

  1. ezmagic - Apr 29, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    He’s still the 2nd best center in the NBA

    • bozosforall - Apr 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM

      More importantly, he is the best center in the playoffs.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:55 AM

      When he plays this way DEFENSIVELY, he’s the best overall. His footwork and overall offensive game runs laps around Dwight’s.

      • therealroman - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        dude if he’s focused his size and strength is almost unfair. i think he might even be stronger than dwight. very impressing, lakers are strong this year

  2. thraiderskin - Apr 29, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    10 blocked shots just seems insane to me… how are you going to let one dude work you like that?

    • cosanostra71 - Apr 29, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      even more amazing is when you put it this way- Bynum blocked 11% of the Nuggets 90 shot attempts. Wow!

  3. isujames - Apr 29, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    Who does this guy think he is The Big O??

  4. savvybynature - Apr 29, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    The Lakers have as talented a big 3 as ANYBODY, and I actually think they match up rather well with the Heat should they make it there. The question with them is: How will they respond to adversity?

    Will Bynum respond when the chips are down? They have a new coach that they don’t seem to trust, will they be wiling to rally around him? Will MWP rip Harden’s arm off and club a baby seal to death with it?

    I don’t know, but it will be fun to find out.

    • zxrated - Apr 30, 2012 at 2:22 AM

      LMBO at the MWP thing! People make too a big deal out of the trust factor with Brown. As great as Phil Jackson was it was not about X’s & O’s when it came to trusting him. Phil was not even the guy to install and reinforce the triangle system principles, Tex Winter was. What Phil did is establish a working relationship with his players as a leader. Brown gained the trust of this team a lot earlier then most realize.
      The improved defensive performance the Lakers had before the Sessions trade was the inception. The removal of Fisher by the FO helped also. As a loyal Laker fan I didn’t understand that move at first, but it was the right thing to do to keep old status from clashing with the new direction. Sessions had to be put in the fire right away and Brown was loyal to Fish.

      Brown and this team are learning each other on the fly. Brown won over Kobe by empowering him early on, through constant two way communication. The benching in the Memphis game made Kobe respect him even more. Bynum is not on the same maturity level as Kobe so it took him more time to understand his benching. The switch seems to be going off in Bynums mindset and if he holds true to his post game words, about agreeing with and understanding Browns commentary about his defensive dominance… the trust factor is where it needs to be for a championship run.

      • smoothaswilkes - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        easy, let’s not get ahead of reality. that is a great narrative that you spun there but the reality is that this game is emblematic the entire season. they need 15 more wins before hoisting a trophy and for one game Bynum was dialed in, three different role players had great games, Kobe and Pau did their things. Is that sustainable throughout the playoffs? I’m not sure yet and there has been zero indication from the season that says it will. having said that it was awesome to watch and I hope it is.

  5. mungman69 - Apr 29, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Lakers in 5

  6. bozosforall - Apr 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Meanwhile, the Celtics punk out against the Hawks.

  7. lakerluver - Apr 30, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Bynum is the BEST center in the NBA. if you haven’t come to that realization yet just keep watching.

  8. omniusprime - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    To think some fools wanted to trade Bynum for Howard, what a disaster that would have been this playoff season. What a great start to what could be a championship year. Ebanks and Hill are coming into their own at the right time and Kobe now won’t have to carry the team on his shoulders every game. If Bynum keeps playing huge like in game 1 the Lakers will crush every team they play, including Queen James and his little pals from the Eastern Creampuff Conference. Go Lakers!!!!

  9. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    I was dancing all around my parents’ basement with joy while Kobe and his supporting cast were teaching the Nuggets what it is like to come up against the god of the NBA, Kobe. I do love Kobe so much. This is just the first win of many in the playoffs. Kobe is the greatest EVEEEEEER.

  10. jumbossportsblog - Apr 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Reblogged this on jumbossportsblog.

    • loungefly74 - Apr 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      i clicked on your site. i wanted to give it a chance as i saw many people bashing it and felt it would be unfair to judge it without taking a look. once at your site, it had a link to “read more…i did that and it takes me back to PBT. i was confused. what is the point of this site? yes, i “understand you say “reblogged” on your comment…but i was hoping for more insight or something else, a different angle, further reports, etc…but all it does is bring you back here if you want to read more. so…i am curious as to the function and reason of ” jumbossportsblog”. i know there is another guy on here who provides a link to his site “http://www.behindthebasket.com/” who does give info that is not on here (though i may not agree with it)..but i just wanted to know the reason for jumbossportsblog…

  11. larsonjs - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Bynum played well, but I was not impressed with Kobe. I thought he demanded the ball way too much. The Lakers are at their best when they spread the offense. I think I could count on one hand the number of times they reposted Bynum after he passed out of the double team. It looked like in the first quarter that they barely looked for him. When the ball goes in to Kobe and dies there, better defensive teams are going to kill the Lakers. Kobe, please learn from your absence. You have a pretty good team. (better I think with MWP at least in this matchup). Trust them

  12. therealkennypowers55 - Apr 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Bynum took off his #84 Randy Moss jersey for the playoffs and will play hard. He was bored during the season but nobody can stop him in the West.

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