Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to get off a shot before Mavericks center… (Paul Buck / EPA )
The moment the shot went into the basket, Andrew Bynum pumped his right fist.
Tiger Woods has routinely done the same thing after putting for birdie. But Bynum's gesture meant something different. He nailed a 13-foot turnaround jumper in the final minutes of the Lakers' 112-108 overtime victory Sunday over the Dallas Mavericks, and he finally felt some relief from an otherwise poor shooting performance.
"I was missing so many shots," said Bynum, who was nine for 24 from the field. "A lot of in-and-outs. It felt good to see one go in."
Those didn't happen often. He was one for eight in the first quarter, something that Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle thought served as a "good sign" that his players could contain the Lakers center's 7-foot, 285-pound frame. It suggested a bad sign for Bynum, considering he had an upper respiratory infection that he said left him struggling to breathe.
It turned out Bynum overcame that illness for reasons beyond taking antibiotics. He centered his energy on defense and grabbing 16 rebounds. Bynum then remained patient enough on double teams to shoot a combined six for eight in the second and fourth quarters.
That effort may pale in comparison with his recent performances. Bynum became the fifth player in Lakers history to grab 30 rebounds in a double-digit win Wednesday at San Antonio. In what has marked a career high for him in points (18.6), shooting percentage (56.4%), rebounds (12.1) and minutes (35.4), Bynum has scored at least 30 points in seven games this season.
Yet, Bynum's effort against Dallas resonated more for Lakers Coach Mike Brown.
"Andrew Bynum was a monster tonight. He was an absolute monster," Brown said. "I enjoyed watching him more tonight probably than any other night because of his dominance or presence in that lane on both ends of the floor. Every rebound he got, he went and got. They didn't fall in his hands."
Those moments came when the Lakers needed them the most.
Bynum scored six fourth-quarter points, including a putback that cut Dallas' cushion to 89-88. Bynum grabbed two consecutive rebounds that spurred Ramon Sessions to score five points to widen the Lakers lead to 97-93 at the 2:49 mark. And in overtime, Bynum's defensive rebound set up Metta World Peace's 18-foot jumper that gave the Lakers a 110-106 edge with 1:04 remaining, a lead they would never relinquish.
"His presence was unbelievable," Brown said, while showing a large grin. "I could still feel it right now."
Bynum still lamented making only one of two free throws, which gave the Lakers a 98-96 lead with 1:08 left in regulation, which then set up Jason Terry's 21-foot jumper that forced overtime. But he did so after the game at his locker, where he sat with his feet in a bucket of water while ice bags were wrapped around his knees. During the game, Bynum hardly allowed his illness or his frustration to consume him.
"It's great they have confidence in me," Bynum said of his teammates. "Tonight I couldn't buy a basket, but we got it done somehow. You just have to keep believing they will go in."