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Lakers' Andrew Bynum is making a difference

Lakers are 7-1 when the often-injured center starts.

January 11, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan

Basketball doesn't live and die for statistics the same way baseball does with WHIPs, OBPs, and batting averages with runners in scoring position in the second game of Tuesday doubleheaders.

But there's one recent stat that's standing out for the Lakers. They are 7-1 with Andrew Bynum in the starting lineup.

Bynum is averaging almost 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots since becoming a starter two weeks ago.

"Size-wise, he's an impact player," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We know that's been the best part of what we've done over the last three years, when we've got Andrew in the lineup and we've had him consistently play for us. It's been a different stance for teams to have to play against."

Bynum is still working on his lift, barely dunking an alley-oop pass from Kobe Bryant after spinning off a defender Tuesday against Cleveland, but he made a believer out of the undersized New York Knicks on Sunday, getting three dunks and three tip-ins during an easy 109-87 victory.

"He does a great job of getting position right under the basket," said Knicks forward-center Amare Stoudemire. "That's where he scores, five feet from the basket. … He was able to get going there when he got close to the basket."

Bryant senses Bynum improving with every game but shrugged off the recent barrage of easy baskets for the 23-year-old.

"He's 7-foot-20," Bryant said jokingly. "Dunks is no indication of it, but I think being able to get in position and make certain moves offensively and defensively, he looks a lot better."

Bynum hasn't played a full season since 2006-07, but the Lakers know they're better when he is on the court.

"That's our team," Ron Artest said. "They signed him for a reason, not to have him [sit] out. He makes us better. We need that."

No more Bakersfield?

Rookie Devin Ebanks hoped his first stint in the Development League was his last.

He returned to the Lakers on Sunday after spending five games with the Bakersfield Jam.

"It definitely is an eye-opener," he said. "It makes you stay humble, especially when you come back. Having a taste of that, you just want to work harder and stay in the NBA."

Ebanks averaged 25.5 points in his last two games in the stat-friendly league. He watched the Lakers' struggles last month from afar.

"I was just pulling for them, hoping they would get it together," he said. "I know they can't win every game, but just our effort needed to be there a little bit more. I think we're starting to get on track right now."

Ebanks can be sent back down to the Development League two more times this season.

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