Efficiency – Led by Bryant, Gasol, and Sessions, the Lakers managed to shoot 53.7 percent from the field. Additionally, hot shooting from Bryant, Sessions, and Murphy resulted in a whopping 52.6 percent efficiency from three-point land. With Andrew Bynum out, the Lakers took more outside shots, and they seemed to go down for them. The question now is if the hot shooting can continue.
Andrew Bynum’s Injury – What does Andrew Bynum’s injury mean exactly? Well, hopefully it is just a minor sprain and Drew will be able to play after missing a game or two. He should definitely take time to make sure he’s as close to 100 percent as possible before returning. In the meantime, everyone will have to step up, and they appeared to do just that last night.
Activity/Murphy/McRoberts – Perhaps one advantage in having Andrew Bynum out is increased activity, particularly from Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts. Mike Brown recently decided with a four-man rotation in the post, adding McRoberts to the mix. This took minutes away from Murphy, but the two seem to both play well together, and apply active, scrappy defense both in the paint and along the perimeter.
There is no question the Lakers are a better team with Bynum in the middle, but if the reserve big men can play the way they did last night, the Lakers should be fine for a game or two. Additionally, both players can use the extended minutes to get into a rhythm. The type of third quarter Murphy had in the sense of grabbing 10 rebounds will be desperately needed in order to hold off opponents while Bynum is out.
Rebounds – Despite the injury to Bynum, the Lakers out-rebounded the Warriors 50-29. It was a team effort as only three players had eight rebounds or more. If Bynum has to sit out a few games, rebounding will have to get done by committee. The good news is that the Lakers appear more than capable of this.
Kobe Bryant – Did anyone think Kobe would have a bad game after a 3-21 outing the day before? If someone did, they must not know the Black Mamba. As he put it:
“It’s always interesting to me to hear people talk after a game like that, that I’m done and stuff like that…the amount of idiots that live out here after sixteen years is just baffling to me…people just get dumber over the years I guess.”
Bryant may have more bad games this season than usual, but it can be expected for a 16-year veteran who has more than 50,000 minutes on his legs. What can be counted on, however, is his defiance and resiliency. Bryant put up 40 points on an efficient 16-28 shooting and was 3-3 from three-point land. One thing we never have to worry about is Kobe’s preparation, so it was only a matter of time before his shots would start falling.
Ramon Sessions – Ramon Sessions is the fourth-best player on this team, and now with one less option in the post, he must look for his shot a bit more and be more aggressive. The spacing should improve for the Lakers as well, and allow Sessions more room to operate in the lane. He did just that in last night’s victory as he was aggressive with his shot and attacked the basket on a number of occasions as well. Now is the time for Sessions to increase his role on the team even more.
Pau Gasol – With Bynum likely out for at least a game or two, Pau Gasol will have to slide over to the center position; something he is accustomed to doing with the Lakers. Gasol has stated in the past that playing the center position is actually easier to play than his natural position of power forward. Without Bynum next to him, he’ll have more room to operate down low. He’ll get a bit more touches, which will allow the offense to run through him; which is typically a good thing for his teammates as well.
Pau has recently stepped up his level of play and appears to be rounding into playoff form. In that sense, the timing couldn’t be better; Gasol will be forced to step up his aggressiveness and activity even more. Gasol knew when to assert himself last night, but also led his team in assists with six.
The hope is that Bynum will come back healthy and Gasol will maintain his aggressiveness.
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