DENVER — Funny time for Andrew Bynum to suddenly become a critic of Andrew Bynum.
All it took was one of the best two-game stretches of his career.
The Lakers center followed a record-setting triple-double that included 10 blocks in his playoff opener with a 27-point, nine-rebound effort in Game 2 that somehow fell short of his expectations.
"I left a lot on the court today," Bynum said Tuesday after the Lakers' 104-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets that gave them a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series that resumes with Game 3 on Friday at the Pepsi Center. "I worked way too hard before the game to let that happen. I could have had a perfect game."
Giving himself two thumbs down for missing a few shots seemed out of character for someone who had largely blown off more dire circumstances in previous months.
Bynum had jabbered his way into ejections and shrugged. He had been benched for a poorly timed three-pointer and wondered what all the fuss was about. He had been held out of the end of a game for lack of hustle and barely flinched.
Could his surprising self-assessment be a sign that the 7-footer is, well, growing up?
"To me, in order to take it to the next level, you have to be your toughest critic," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said Thursday. "And if he's doing that and he truly means it, which I think he does, then, yeah, it's going to help him out. It's going to help him become the superstar that he can be one day."
Asked to elaborate on why he had been so hard on himself two days earlier, Bynum said, "Because it could have been a better performance and you don't get to get it back."
How could it have been better?
"Make more shots, get some more boards," said Bynum, who made 12 of 20 shots. "That's really it. I missed a lot of opportunities."
The Nuggets would probably disagree after a two-game stretch in which Bynum has averaged 18.5 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks while shooting 17 for 27 (62.9%).
Kobe Bryant said Bynum was letting the events of the games dictate how he played.
"In Game 1, it was dependent on what they were doing defensively and just the flow of the game and that's what he did," Bryant said. "In Game 2, just because of the flow of the game, he had 27 points. He's just playing the game that's in front of him."
Asking the Lakers which of Bynum's performances they preferred almost amounted to a trick question.
"Both Andrews are good," forward Pau Gasol said, smiling. "I think I'll take a triple-double with blocks and a 27 and nine any night."
Brown said he preferred the way Bynum played in the opener, when he had 10 points and 13 rebounds to go with his 10 blocks, because he made a sizable impact on both ends of the court. It's something the coach said he has come to expect.
"Realistically, I think he can do both," Brown said. "I think he can impact the game defensively or control the game defensively, and he can score."
He can also offer a critique of himself, a powerful weapon in a burgeoning arsenal.
"The guy had 27 and nine, I believe, and he wasn't satisfied," Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions said. "That's just showing you his competitive nature and the ability he has to be one of the greatest centers to ever play the game."