Here are a few things to look at from last night’s victory over the Grizzlies:
Turnovers – We’ll start with the bad. The Grizzlies had 15 steals as opposed to the Lakers’ four. Consequently, the Lakers had 18 turnovers compared with Memphis’ eight. The Lakers were sloppy early on, but were able to clean things up later in the game. On the road, the Lakers need to make sure they limit turnovers as much as possible in order to give themselves a chance to win. However, it was good to see them buckle down and start playing well, finally.
Bryant and Bynum – Andrew Bynum has finally arrived as a true All-Star, and a possible superstar, in this league. With the support of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum has become a viable option for the Lakers throughout the game and down the stretch. Last night, Bryant still took 25 shots, but he didn’t force too many of them. He appears to acknowledge Bynum as the left jab to his right hook, and has the kind of trust in Bynum he once had for Pau Gasol. Bynum’s 15-for-18 field goal efficiency is just that, highly efficient. Not many players in the league can guard Bynum, and with his increased floor awareness and ability to read and react to double teams, the big fella looks poised to dominate the league for years to come.
One huge advantage Bynum possesses over Dwight Howard–whom many Lakers fans have begged Lakers’ management to attain via a trade for Bynum–is his free throw efficiency. Dwight Howard is shooting under 50 percent from the line this year, as opposed to Bynum’s 63 percent. However, Bynum was shooting much lower than that early on in the season, which proves he is working his way back to his career percentage of 67.8 percent or perhaps higher. Last night, Bynum drained seven of eight free throws. When Bynum is shooting like that from the free throw line, he is arguably the best big man a team could ask for in crunch time situations, whereas Howard can be considered a liability.
Pau Gasol – Any time there is a trade rumor surrounding the Lakers, Pau Gasol is right in the middle of it. This must be distracting for Gasol, but he is still managing to play at a high level. Although he scored just 14 points last night, Gasol was crucial to the Lakers’ success. On several plays, Pau was able to set up Andrew Bynum for easy lob plays in the overtime periods. Not to mention he was a key facilitator throughout the game, dishing out eight assists overall. How many other seven-footers can drop eight dimes the way Pau does? Not many. He even helped alter a play along with Bryant to initiate one of those alley-oop plays to Bynum. Right now, Gasol is taking a step back scoring-wise, but is still very involved in the offense. Any time you have a player with Pau’s IQ, it is best to utilize his decision making, and the Lakers appear to be doing that.
The Fire –We spoke about the fire last time, and how the Lakers need to bring it with them on the road. At first, it appeared as if they left it with them at Staples Center, but then the fourth quarter rolled around. The Lakers looked determined not to lose another road game, so they really focused in, and used their advantages to get back in the game and eventually win. It was really great to see this team play together and leave it all out on the floor, and it paid off for them against a quality opponent.
The Lakers got a quality win on the road last night, and hopefully can do the same against New Orleans tonight.