Andrew Bynum has become the last line of defense for the Lakers, their anchor.
For opponents, that has not been a good thing.
Bynum has become a force in the middle for the Lakers at center, something the Charlotte Bobcats saw all too well Friday night in the Lakers’ 92-84 victory at Staples Center.
Bynum had a season-high 17 rebounds, one shy of his career high.
Bynum had a season-high six blocked shots, one shy of his career high.
“I’m just being actively defensively,” Bynum said. “I can really, really help the team there by erasing mistakes that we make defensively.”
Bynum also had nine points on three-for-four shooting.
But it was his defense that was most telling.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said he was impressed by Bynum, not to mention the defense the 23-year-old was anchoring.
“Defensively, we stayed pretty true,” Jackson said. “A lot of blocked shots, a lot of rebounds.”
The Lakers now have won six consecutive games and Bynum has played a big role in that.
He has had at least one blocked shot in every game.
He has averaged 10.6 rebounds during that stretch.
“He’s playing well and aggressive,” Pau Gasol said. “I think he was upset about the way he played before the All-Star break, especially that game in Cleveland. So he has come back extremely strong and very active, and I’d like to see him keeping that aggressiveness up. His blocking shots and rebounding has been excellent. If he can keep that up, he’s helping us in a big way.”
Before the All-Star break, when the Lakers lost three consecutive games, Bynum didn’t look like the player he is now.
Against Cleveland, he missed 10 of his 12 shots. He had just six rebounds.
He didn’t look active.
But all that has changed in the last six games.
He blocked five of his shots in the second half.
“I think if my activity stays high like that,” Bynum said, “it’s going to be tough for us to lose.”