When the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, it almost felt like Dwight Howard was playing for the purple and gold. The Lakers’ center was dominant on the box, had tremendous presence in the paint, and most importantly, carried himself like a classy superstar.
Obviously, Dwight Howard wasn’t anywhere near the Staples Center [Lakers’ stadium], but the way that Andrew Bynum played in Game 1 showed the world that with composure and extreme focus, sky’s the limit for this young man’s talent.
Now, we’re not going to go above and beyond and compare him to Dwight Howard just yet, one of the most powerful and skilled, if not the best center in the league. However, if Bynum can continue his effective play as he had been doing all throughout the regular season, he will be another inch closer to NBA stardom.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Los Angeles Lakers set out to trade Andrew Bynum. In February, during the trade deadline, the Lakers would’ve done everything in their power to release Bynum in hopes to acquire Orlando Magic’s, Dwight Howard.
After a few months, it’s amazing how things change. Andrew Bynum is now dominating the playoffs, while Dwight Howard is sitting home after undergoing season-ending surgery for an ailing back.
It’s no secret that the Lakers will now need to rely on Andrew Bynum if the team has any aspirations of making it far in the playoffs. At 24-years-old, Bynum is now one of the leaders and captains of this Los Angeles team. The Lakers’ success will strictly depend on how Bynum reacts to tough situations during this run. By the end of this year’s playoffs, the Lakers will definitely know if Andrew Bynum is a player that the organization wants to keep for the long-term.
During the post-game interview after Game 1, Lakers’ coach, Mike Brown had strong words in regards to Andrew Bynum’s physical impact on the game.
“He can control a game without shooting a single shot if he wanted to,” the coach said. “He can literally control a game without shooting a shot. That’s how good he is. He had 10 blocks, but I’d be curious to know how many he probably changed. He changed a gazillion shots in the paint, and that’s what Denver is very good at, getting that ball in the paint, drive and finishing at the rim and getting a lot of layups. He was phenomenal tonight. And if he continues to play like he did, picking up a triple-double, being the type of monster he was tonight patrolling the paint, we’ll be playing a long time.”
Andrew Bynum finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks in Game 1. With this accomplishment, the young Lakers’ stallion had broken the franchise record of nine blocks, held by Lakers’ legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was also the first triple-double recorded by a Lakers’ player in twenty-one years.
Andrew Bynum’s dominant performance in Game 1 speaks volumes to the other side of the court. Denver Nuggets’ forward, Danilo Gallinari knows exactly how tough it’ll be to score inside the paint.
“We’ve got to find a way to score before he gets in the paint, because he’s impressive.” [Gallinari on Bynum]
With Metta World Peace suspended for six more games, Bynum would need to be that “rock” the Lakers need in order to surpass the Denver Nuggets. While we don’t have the slightest idea of how far the Lakers will go in the postseason, it’s safe to say that the NBA now has another legitimate “big man” in Los Angeles.
Game 2 of the Lakers/Nuggets will be held in the Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA on Tuesday night, 5/1. Tip-off will be at 10:30 PM ET. [TNT]
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