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Lakers leaders in lobbing

Clippers have done their share, but Lob City is more of a Lakers town, thanks to Andrew Bynum's dunks and Pau Gasol's passes.

April 04, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Lakers center Andrew Bynum, left, and forward Pau Gasol celebrate the Lakers' overtime victory over Boston in February. The duo has played a major role in helping the Lakers put up more alley-oop dunks than the Clippers this season.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum, left, and forward Pau Gasol celebrate the Lakers'… (Matt Campbell / EPA )

Not everything is what it seems in Lob City.

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the presumed princes of this domain, are paupers compared with one of their crosstown rivals. And would you believe that a Lakers 7-footer has thrown more alley-oop passes than his team's three primary point guards combined?

It's all true.

A review of the Lakers' and Clippers' play-by-play records from every game this season by The Times showed that the Lakers have converted 110 alley-oop dunks and layups compared with 89 for their fellow Staples Center tenants. That's a 23.6% advantage for the Lakers, though they have played one more game than the Clippers heading into the teams' final regular-season meeting Wednesday.

The figures do not account for traditional dunks and layups.

The Clippers hold an edge strictly in lob dunks, with 82 to the Lakers' 72. But Lakers center Andrew Bynum's 25 alley-oop layups help put the Lakers, well, over the top.

The numbers came as a surprise to Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, who observed both teams from afar until being traded by Cleveland last month.

"I didn't think it was close," Sessions said Tuesday. "With the Lakers, it's probably something that came in the offensive flow. Most of the Clippers' [lobs] are kind of a fastbreak thing, more of a highlight. But I definitely would have thought the Clippers had more."

Newly acquired point guard Chris Paul was supposed to make the Clippers the city's primary lobbyists for high-flying antics, and his 45 alley-oop assists are more than any other Clipper or Laker.

But Bynum has been the de facto mayor of the basketball metropolis dubbed Lob City, with 76 alley-oop dunks and layups. That's almost as many as the Clippers' Jordan (48) and Griffin (37) combined.

Bynum has been the beneficiary of more than a handful of lobs from fellow Lakers big man Pau Gasol, whose 32 alley-oop assists are more than those of point guards Steve Blake (20), Sessions (two) and the recently departed Derek Fisher (seven) combined.

"He's a very good passer," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said of Gasol. "We play him a lot around the elbow area and he gets excited about passing the basketball."

Bynum hasn't exactly reciprocated, failing to throw one successful alley-oop pass to a teammate. Bynum did not play Tuesday against New Jersey because of a sprained ankle and his status for the game against the Clippers remained uncertain.

Gasol ranks second on the Lakers with 10 alley-oop dunks and layups, followed by Kobe Bryant (nine), Josh McRoberts (nine) and Matt Barnes (five). Bryant has 28 alley-oop assists and Barnes has 12.

Only a handful of Clippers not named Jordan or Griffin have soared for lob dunks and layups. Kenyon Martin has two and Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins each have one. Mo Williams is a distant second behind Paul with 18 alley-oop assists and Randy Foye has 16.

The Clippers did not practice Tuesday and were not available for comment.

Jordan has nearly as many alley-oop dunks (47) as does Bynum (51), but Bynum's bonanza of alley-oop layups rises far above Jordan's one. Griffin has 32 alley-oop dunks and five alley-oop layups.

Sessions said the Lakers' lobs are not part of their coach's offensive scheme.

"It's nothing that's talked about," Sessions said. "If it happens, it happens. It's not one of those things where we go out there and throw lobs. Having those big tall guys, it does help getting the ball up to them real high in the air.

"But it's not something we focus on."

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