Andrew Bynum said he couldn’t breathe because of an upper respiratory infection. Kobe Bryant, for the fifth game, couldn’t play because of a sore shin. But Bryant could coach and Bynum could score, a combination that worked for the Los Angeles Lakers in a 112-108 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
“He's coming up with plays and watching things that are going on,” Bynum told the Los Angeles Times after Bryant missed his fifth straight game. ”He's telling us where the double teams are coming from and how we can be effective moving the basketball.”
Bryant hasn’t said much about his shin, but did promise “I’ll be back well before the playoffs.” The team is 4-1 in Bryant’s absence and he’s even starting to sound like a coach. (He sure looks like one...) “Everybody is playing extremely well indivudually to help us as a whole but it's still within the context on what we do as a group.”
Bynum, who is taking antibiotics for his respiratory infection, had 23 points and 16 rebounds and Pau Gasol made back-to-back three-pointers in OT for the Lakers, who were eliminated last year from the playoffs by the Mavericks. Ramon Sessions scored 22 points and Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“Andrew Bynum was a monster tonight,” Coach Mike Brown said. “He was an absolute monster.”
At times this season, Bynum has also been a petulant pill. He was benched in the fourth quarter of a game in late March. ESPN’s J.A. Adande writes that he’d take Bynum, who had a 30-rebound game last week, over Dwight Howard.
[Brown] told him he could be that good whenever he wants, he can be as important a part of what the Lakers do in the playoffs as he desires.
That's a big jump from a player who saw limited action in his first two playoffs, limped to the finish in his third. All of those hours of rehab, all of that work to develop his footwork and post game, it's a shame he hasn't let that become the narrative, rather than his immature outbursts.
“I'm just focused on what's coming next,” Bynum said. “Just living, playing in next breath, next play, next minute.”
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