This is the time of year where I feel true colors begin to get exposed. Some teams melt down, and some teams rise up like the Lakers have been doing since the All-Star Break. They have now won seven in a row against some quality opponents, none more so that the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were riding their own franchise-record streak of 22 consecutive home wins and last night, it was their streak that failed.
The first Lakers possession started with a missed shot, but was kept alive by Andrew Bynum who subsequently got the rebound and dunked it. It was a positive way to begin a tough road game and a harbinger of domination yet to come, as well. Bynum was extremely active on both ends of the court; he blocked shots, pursued errant boards, and did a particularly good job of collecting offensive boards and keeping his teammates involved.
While he only finished with 4 points, they were both dunks. More important was his game-leading 17 rebounds, 8 of which came in the first quarter! Jeff Van Gundy said it well during the ABC broadcast: “Andrew Bynum is dominating the game with his length, strength, defensive awareness and protection of the basket.”
Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were very active in the front court as well. It soon became clear that the Spurs couldn’t match their size or their skill, which is always a huge advantage for L.A. In general, the activity level and focus of the whole team was off the charts. Every single player was engaged from the moment they stepped on the court.