Among the highlights of my breakdown on the Lakers’ 103-88 victory Sunday over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series:
- Andrew Bynum proved to be the main difference in the win. Bynum compenstated for his 10-point effort by grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking 10 shots, breaking a Lakers’ playoff record for most blocked shots set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1977 against Golden State. Bynum’s 10 blocks also tied an NBA playoff record with Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon (April 29, 1990 against Lakers) and Utah’s Mark Eaton (April 26, 1985 vs. Houston). Bynum might not replicate these numbers, but he needs to show this kind of commitment on defense.
- Kobe Bryant 31 points on 11-of-24 shooting suddenly became an afterthought. That’s because of a strong supporting cast, which provided help from everywhere. Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill complemented Bynum’s inside presence by combining for 23 points and 18 rebounds. Steve Blake hit three three-pointers in the second quarter. Matt Barnes provided energy despite nursing a sprained right ankle.
- Who needs Metta World Peace when the Lakers have Devin Ebanks. His 12 points on five-of-six shooting marked another turn in his development that’s featured many chapters. First, he filled in for Bryant for seven games while the All-Star guard was nursing a left shin injury by simply holding the fort. Then he came in last week and held Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant to a five-of-19 shooting clip in the fourth quarter and subsequent overtimes. And against Denver, Ebanks looked incredibly comfortable attacking the basket.
- Ramon Sessions looked ready in his NBA playoff debut. He played aggressive, scoring 14 points on six-of-11 shooting. Sessions and Bynum continuously helped each other on pick-and-roll sets to hold Ty Lawson to seven points on a three-of-11 shooting.
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