After winning Game 1 over the Denver Nuggets in convincing fashion, the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten off to an impressive start to the NBA playoffs with a potential sweep on the horizon. One of the main reasons for the Lakers dominance defensively on Sunday was Andrew Bynum’s historic performance in which he recorded a triple-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks. This was the first triple-double by a Laker in the playoffs since Magic Johnson accomplished the feat back in 1991. Bynum’s 10 blocks were also both a team record and tied NBA playoff record.
Needless to say, Bynum’s performance was a game-changer for the Lakers with the Nuggets having no answer offensively. Despite Bynum putting on a show, Nuggets head coach George Karl believed that the Lakers center was able to have a historic game due to illegal defense not being called, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“(Bynum) was playing nice illegal defense,” Karl said in his post-game press conference after the Lakers won Game 1 of their first round series against the Nuggets 103-88 on Sunday. “He zoned up good. I think we got one illegal defense (called against the Lakers). I saw about 30.”
This is obviously a typical response of a coach on the losing side of things, but as the series progresses the refs will almost certainly be cracking down on the Lakers for illegal defense.
For anyone that isn’t clear about what illegal defense actually is; here is a quick explanation from McMenamin:
According to the NBA rule book, a defensive player cannot spend more than three seconds in the lane while not actively guarding an opponent. “Actively guarding” means the defender is within arm’s length of an opponent and in a guarding position.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the refs make a point to call illegal defense on the Lakers more often in Game 2 on Tuesday. Even though Karl has a right to his opinion, it would be hard to argue that Bynum’s performance wasn’t impressive and a great sign of things to come for the Lakers during the playoffs by the All-Star center.