Lakers center Andrew Bynum dunks during the first quarter of the Lakers'… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)
Some things to take from the Lakers' 104-101 victory Tuesday over the Golden State Warriors:
1. Andrew Bynum's behavior was unacceptable. He sat on the bench with an indifferent expression. During timeouts, he remained out of the huddle. When the KCAL-TV cameras zoomed in on him, he gave a perturbed look and pointed at the scoreboard. Yes, the Lakers have another bench controversy, but Coach Mike Brown is hardly at fault -- all the criticism belongs with Bynum.
Brown immediately yanked the center with 9:33 left in the third quarter after the 7-footer took an ill-advised three pointer with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock. As soon as Bynum sat down, he smiled and mimicked his release. As he sat on the bench for the rest of the quarter, Bynum looked like he hardly cared at all. Brown gave him a chance to open the fourth, but Bynum followed that with a jumper clanging off the rim, a shot getting blocked and making one of two free throws.
He sat for the final 9:10 with the same indifferent body language. For as much as Bynum has progressed as a player, he still shows he's got a lot of growing up to do. His behavior looks even worse considering his teammates provided a good effort, even if it wasn't always pretty. Kudos to Brown for not tolerating Bynum's antics.
2. Kobe Bryant showed his dependability once again. This was hardly his best game, as his 30 points came on nine-of-24 shooting. After tying Michael Jordan for second place on the list of most franchise points in NBA history, with 7:56 remaining in the third quarter, Bryant missed his next seven shots. But then once again he came through when it counted. His 19-foot jumper tied the game at 97-97 with 1:04 remaining. Bryant then did the same thing to give the Lakers a 99-97 edge with 32 seconds left. Yes, some of Bryant's isolation plays put the Lakers in this predicament. Yet as we've seen many times before, he still maintained his confidence and focus to lift the team.
3. Pau Gasol was aggressive. After a two-game stretch in which he shot nine-of-29, Gasol quickly ended that mini-slump, first by dominating the glass and then replacing Bynum's usual effectiveness inside. His 17 rebounds eclipsed Bynum's five, a clear indication of who was hungrier against Golden State. That mindset paid off on the other end, where Gasol's 19 points on eight-of-16 shooting came on a series of sweeping hooks and turnarounds on the block. None of his shots came off mid-range jumpers, which represented a heavy part of his field-goal attempts in the previous two games.
4. Matt Barnes/Metta World Peace made timely contributions and hustled well. Barnes' 18 points and 10 rebounds came off hustle plays, an efficient three-of-five from three-point range and his reliable cutting. Considering the bench's general inadequacies, Barnes' contributions proved well-timed.
Meanwhile, World Peace's 11 points and five boards simply came down to him making crucial plays. That included a deep trey that gave the Lakers an 86-83 lead with 7:24 remaining, blocking Klay Thompson's jumper with 47 seconds left and flooding the paint to deny penetration.
5. The Lakers were inconsistently attacking Golden State's zone defense. This proved to be the largest factor in allowing the Warriors to constantly chip away at the Lakers' double-digit leads. Only Bryant remained aggressive enough in attacking the basket to go 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. The ball movement often became stagnant, and there often proved to be too much settling for jumpers instead of exploiting the zone's gaps.
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