Andrew Bynum finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, his fifth consecutive double double and 10th in 12 games, as he and Pau Gasol led the Lakers to a rare away win over the Dallas Mavericks (96-91), despite Kobe Bryant being limited to only 15 points by a fantastic Shawn Marion, proving the Lakers have more than just their aging future hall of fame scorer.
The most incredible number on Kobe Bryant’s stat line? He took only 15 shots. He made only 4, as Marion completely erased the NBA’s leading scorer. This was the lowest number of attempted field goals by Bryant all season. Another important number, the +14 on Bynum’s +/-, showed once again who is the player the Lakers need the most to be productive.
Pau Gasol had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 24 points and 9 rebounds. All the talk about needing a point guard does wake up Derek Fisher as he snoozes his way into retirement, with the 37 year old scoring a season high of 15 points, shooting 6-8 from the field, bringing his season numbers very close to 40%. Yes, it’s been that bad so far.
Speaking of veteran point guard who are struggling, Jason Kidd, who keeps clawing his way up on many all-time lists, finished with 5 points and his field goal percentage is barely over the 30% mark. While the Lakers have two of the best big-men in basketball, the Mavericks need help everywhere. Dirk Nowitzki, with 25 points and 12 rebounds, isn’t getting anything consistent from the players around him.
Bryant? It’s not that he realized he was having a bad day and passed the ball along. He finished with 4 assists, and 7 turnovers. Marion simply didn’t let him take enough shots, which in hindsight, might have been good for the Mavericks. They grabbed 21 offensive boards, but kept throwing bricks, finishing with a terrible 8-32 from the outside. As usual, too many players on the Dallas team look simply tired.
Bynum is enjoying his best NBA season. A lot more focus, and finally, so far, completely healthy. He’s averaging career highs in points (16.3) and rebounds (12.8), but it’s what’s expected of him, in compared to what Kobe Bryant, on his own course of achieving greatness, despite everything he talks about in favor of Gasol and against Lakers ownership, which hurts Bynum’s dominance and his development.
Will the Lakers be a better team without Bryant? I don’t see any other player in the league at that position except for Dwyane Wade who could add more. But Bryant has to, HAS TO, change his game, which seems highly unlikely, and the Lakers will benefit. Mike Brown may be talking and improving their defense, but the win over Dallas showed how much the Lakers can benefit by stopping the Bryant and four more guys type of offense.