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Lakers' Andrew Bynum making All-Star push

Center is close to joining Toronto's Chris Bosh as the only players in the league averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.

November 23, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan

Andrew Bynum, forgotten man?

Amid all the attention heaped upon the return of Pau Gasol, the Lakers' 22-year-old center served notice that, um, he's still playing too.

Bynum had 25 points on nine-for-11 shooting in the Lakers' 101-85 victory Sunday over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also had nine rebounds and made all seven of his free throws in almost 29 minutes.

Toronto forward-center Chris Bosh is the only player in the league averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, though Bynum is close to being there too.

He is now averaging 19.9 points and 11.2 rebounds.

Are the All-Star voters paying attention?

"I hope to make it," Bynum said. "That's really a goal I had coming into this season. I think I'm playing at the level I need to be playing. All I can do is get votes now. I've got to keep it up."

The All-Star game is Feb. 14 in Dallas.

Bynum didn't seem affected Sunday after sitting out two days of practice to rest a sore right ankle that he rolled Thursday against Chicago.

With Gasol often setting up in the high post, there's plenty of room for Bynum to operate down low.

"As the season goes on, both of us are going to do better together," Bynum said. "I think we'll be a stronger team because everybody will be scoring. We'll be able to get more assists. A lot less double-teaming [by opponents], and we'll be able to be more efficient."

Gasol is averaging 19.5 points, 10 rebounds and 4.5 assists in two games. He missed 11 games because of a strained right hamstring.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who often bites his tongue when asked to positively assess Bynum's game, was no different Sunday.

He wants to see more from Bynum in the defensive end.

"Offensively, he did fine. I'll say that for sure," Jackson said. "Defensively, he wasn't at the [proper] rotation. He didn't run back on defense. Those are the type of things that I'm always pushing him to do a little bit more work on."

Opponents apparently see otherwise.

Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks said the combination of Bynum and Gasol on defense was "very difficult" to penetrate.

"They're long. They protect the rim, they protect the paint," Brooks said. "They're not playing with their hands down. They are a very talented defensive team that passes the ball very well."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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