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LAKERS FYI

Lakers' Andrew Bynum has a lot go right on opening night

He celebrates getting championship ring and his birthday by scoring 26 points and getting 13 rebounds against the Clippers. And no one asks him about his knee.

October 29, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

Andrew Bynum heard a lot of things Tuesday.

Here's your championship ring. Happy birthday. Great game.

There was one thing he didn't hear at all: How's your knee?

The Lakers' center averaged 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in exhibition play this fall, though not everybody was sold, understandably, based on his mundane playoff performance last season while being slowed by a sore right knee.

Then came his effort Tuesday against the Clippers, 26 points and 13 rebounds in the season opener, most of it against veteran center Chris Kaman.

If one game made a season, he'd be an All-Star. For now, he's merely building on a solid 38-minute effort after averaging 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in last season's playoffs.

"It feels great to be able to go out there and play the way I did," Bynum said. "I think I just want to be able to keep that up. I think that's the biggest difference, just being aggressive.

"Rings, a win and a birthday, so it was definitely a great feeling for me. That's the best gift I think I've ever gotten."

Bynum, now 22, had seven points and five rebounds in the first quarter against the Clippers, a solid start, but he said it was hard to play after the pregame ring ceremony.

"It was definitely tough to get warmed up," he said. "I was kind of emotional. It was just really, really nice to go out there and receive that ring like that. Hopefully we can do that again next year."

Off the mark

Ron Artest didn't shoot well against the Clippers, making only three of 10 attempts, one of five from three-point range. He also missed four of seven free-throw attempts.

"We'll try to work him through some of those hitches he's got in his shot and make sure he gets comfortable up there," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "Those things will all come together. He's a big presence there."

On the other hand, Artest helped hold Clippers forward Al Thornton to four-for-11 shooting and had the best "plus-minus" on the team. The Lakers outscored the Clippers by 14 points when Artest was on the court. Kobe Bryant was next at plus-nine.

He likes them

No need to ask TNT analyst Kenny Smith what he thinks of the Lakers. In his mind, they should start planning for a parade next June.

"Most people say that the two things that will stop the Lakers are Lamar Odom's wedding and Ron Artest running into the stands," Smith said.

"If those are the only two things you have to worry about with winning a championship as a coach, you want that every single year. Basketball-wise, they don't have any holes."

Smith particularly likes the addition of Artest.

"Ron Artest is usually the first or second best player on a team. Now he is the third or fourth option and he can carry you for weeks at a time," Smith said. "He can actually play defense, get 20 points and stop someone from scoring 20 points. I don't know three guys in the NBA that can do that.

"Add that to Kobe Bryant, who is the most electric player in the league. I don't see how the Lakers can lose another championship, barring injury. They are hands-down the most talented, best team in basketball. If you take the best player off of every team in the West [Conference], this would be the only team that would make the playoffs."

More banners

Staples Center isn't the only place with a new championship banner.

The Lakers' practice court in El Segundo received some recent remodeling as well, posting on its walls smaller replicas of the 10 championship banners the team has won in Los Angeles, as well as large cutouts of the franchise's retired jerseys. . . . The Lakers did not practice Wednesday.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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