With Andrew Bynum out for last night’s game as part of a two game suspension, it was apparent that other Lakers (especially Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom) would need to step up. Luckily this is not an unknown occurrence due to Bynum’s penchant for injuries; while it is far from ideal, the Lakers know how to play and win without him.
The first quarter started strong for both teams with easy opportunities coming in the paint for each. Pau Gasol set the tone for what needed to be done by keeping the ball alive on the first possession and getting a three point opportunity.
He had a solid game, grabbing 13 boards and 14 points with a couple of monster blocks thrown in for good measure. While Pau might not be as big a presence in the lane as Drew, he is still a 7 foot skilled player who has gotten tougher and more resilient with each passing game.
The star of the first half for me was easily Lamar Odom. Odom showed activity on both ends by running the floor, dishing the ball and going for rebounds (which eluded his grasp for much of the time, but still…. he was going for it at least).
LO had an extremely efficient scoring game as well, going 4-4 from the field in the first half and ending up with 8-11 FG for 16 points. In fact, he was only 4 assists shy of a triple double. One of the best was a perfect bounce pass inside to Gasol, who hung on the rim after finishing with a two handed slam!
Aggressiveness was forefront in the minds of the bench too. Shannon Brown had two sick dunks of course: he blew by Rudy Fernandez down the lane and stuffed it for the first, and got his second on the run off of a Matt Barnes steal.
I can’t tell you how excited I get when I see Shannon on a fast break in the open court- my eyes get wide, my heart starts beating faster, and then my jaw drops when he uses his explosive trampoline-like steps to catapult towards the basket. It’s the best when this sequence ends in a dunk, but just seeing the possibility is amazing in and of itself sometimes. I’ve said it before, Shannon’s attempts are better than most people’s makes. He might not be the most creative dunker but holy cow can he elevate and bring vicious energy in the paint.
Next: We Miss Drew