Bynum is alone on center stage


One absent Marcus Camby meant two eye-opening words for the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum.

Career night.

Or if you want to continue the political theme:

Running unopposed.

Bynum had 42 points and 15 rebounds in the Lakers’ 108-97 victory over the Clippers on Wednesday night at Staples Center in front of a sellout crowd. Bynum’s previous high was 28 points, and he eclipsed that mark early in the third quarter, pounding home a one-handed dunk.

Speaking of pounding . . . were those tire tracks on the backs of poor Brian Skinner and DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers? It was the Lakers’ seventh straight victory over the Clippers to put the Lakers (33-8) in a tie with Orlando for the league’s best record.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked if this was a breakthrough for Bynum. “Offensively, yeah,” he said. “But there’s two ends to the game still. Don’t forget that, right? That was his career high too.”


He was speaking about the 23 points by Clippers rookie Jordan.

“They must have had a deal together. D.J. said, ‘I’ll dunk on you, I’ll give you one and a half on me,’ ” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said of Bynum and Jordan.

Someone had to deal with Bynum and unfortunately, for the Clippers, the man best equipped to do so, Camby, was doing interviews in street clothes in the locker room before the game, not preparing for Bynum. Camby had been tied for the NBA’s rebounding lead when he went down because of a sprained ankle Saturday and could be out another two weeks.

Said Bynum: “It feels very good to go out there and play the way I did. I was able to get a lot of easy buckets. Kobe was ‘Kobe Nash’ out there with all the [assists].”

The under-manned, injury-riddled Clippers surprisingly made it competitive -- trailing 58-55 at the half -- before the game action turned into a human-highlight film, looking much like the 1992 Dream Team beating up on Angola.

There was Kobe Bryant landing no-look shots, faking shots behind the back and going over the shoulder to feed Bynum. Bryant had his 16th career triple-double and second in three games: 18 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Apparently the Clippers were the perfect medicine for the pain of a dislocated ring finger on Bryant’s right hand.


But those feats were nothing compared to the sleight-of-hand theatrics pulled off by the Lakers’ Lamar Odom early in the fourth quarter.

Odom, who had a season-high 19 points, dunked and then hung on the rim and grabbed his crotch, practically at the same time. “I was feeling good,” he said. “My legs were feeling good.”

Dunking and dissing the Clippers?

That and getting Bynum to 40 points caused the Lakers to let their big lead shrink, a season-long trend. Bynum went back in the game with 6:51 remaining and he didn’t reach the 40-point plateau until his dunk with 1:07 left.

He was 17 for 24 from the field and his 15 rebounds were two shy of another career high.

Bynum, who had 13 rebounds in his last four games (including one at Houston), started fast with a 13-point first quarter, making six of seven shots.

For the 9-32 Clippers, Jordan went 11 for 12 from the field and had 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Said Dunleavy: “We got a lot of production out of D.J. tonight. He had a tough match-up. He hasn’t seen 43 minutes in practice. So he was pretty gassed at times.”


This was a long way from the season opener against the Lakers when Baron Davis promised “a different” Clippers team when he grabbed the microphone and addressed the crowd.

Different? Apparently Davis knew what he was talking about. Too bad the Clippers can’t go back in time. Unlike retaking a presidential oath, do-overs don’t exist in the NBA.

The Lakers clinched at least a tie for the best record in the Western Conference by Feb. 1, meaning Jackson will coach the West team at the Feb. 15 All-Star Game in Phoenix. San Antonio could tie the Lakers by Feb. 1, though Jackson would still represent the West because Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich has coached an All-Star Game more recently.





The last time the Clippers defeated the Lakers was on April 12, 2007. Corey Maggette had a career-high 39 points and Elton Brand had 12 rebounds in the Clippers’ 118-110 win. Kobe Bryant scored 50 for the Lakers in that game. A look at six games since:

*--* Date Score Dec. 16, 2007 Lakers, 113-92 Feb. 23, 2008 Lakers, 113-95 March 7, 2008 Lakers, 119-82 April 10, 2008 Lakers, 106-78 Nov. 5, 2008 Lakers, 106-88 Jan. 21, 2009 Lakers, 108-97 *--*