Bynum Sparks Lakers Past Timberwolves
Posted Nov 8 2006 2:58AM
L.A. Lakers 95, Minnesota 88
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 7 (AP) -Not bad for a 19-year-old center pressed into a starting role with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Andrew Bynum had 20 points, 14 rebounds and some key plays down the stretch Tuesday night in Los Angeles' 95-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
``I had to pinch myself, but it was definitely really cool out there to get a home win in front of our fans and have them cheering for you,'' Bynum said. ``That was the first time they were cheering my name, so that felt pretty good.''
Kobe Bryant, in the third game of his comeback from last summer's knee surgery, had 17 points while taking only seven shots, and added six assists as all the Lakers' starters scored in double figures.
Bryant said that Bynum's hard work over the summer is paying off.
``It's just on me to be big brother, to be happy for him and tell him how good of a job he's done,'' said the 28-year-old Bryant, who also came into the league straight out of high school.
Bynum, who has been working under the tutelage of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, had his career highs in points and rebounds, and he also blocked three shots - including swatting away a shot under the basket by Mike James in the final minute.
Bynum said he has learned some valuable lessons from Abdul-Jabbar.
``We've had a lot of sessions and we talk about different things every day,'' Bynum said. ``But the most important thing he was telling me about was anchoring the defense and how much energy you can create from blocking people's shots and making the other team have to think about coming right down the lane for a layup, which is what happened tonight.''
Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said Bynum's schooling is obvious.
``Kareem's done a heck of a job with developing him,'' Casey said. ``Last year, he didn't even look like he belonged in the NBA. This year, he looks like he belongs.
``He plays with a lot of confidence. He knows what he's doing down there, and he's a load.''
The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum demonstrated his jumping ability when he went high off the floor to block Ricky Davis' shot on a drive to the basket with four minutes left in the third quarter. The crowd cheered wildly.
``I just believe in myself,'' Bynum said. ``Day by day I'm gaining more confidence out there and growing as a basketball player just by getting the experience from playing all these minutes.''
He played 29 minutes and finished 6-of-9 from the field and 8-of-10 from the line, including 3-of-4 in the final 47 seconds as the Lakers held on.
The Lakers opened a 72-52 lead with a 21-7 run over the first 7:22 of the third quarter. But the Timberwolves came back to pull within 89-86 with 1:25 remaining before Odom hit a running jumper and Bynum made his free throws to make it 94-86 with 42 seconds left.
Odom made the shot of the game, chasing down a deflected pass on the right side near the halfcourt line, then whirling and throwing up a desperation shot as the shot clock ticked down. It went in, giving the Lakers an 83-67 lead with 9:46 remaining.
``I guess it was persistence,'' said Odom, who was 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Notes: Bynum's three blocks matched a career high. His other previous highs were 18 points and nine rebounds in a 114-106 victory over Phoenix on opening night. ... The Lakers have won nine in a row at home, including six straight to close out last season. .. Minnesota took last season's series against the Lakers 3-1, only the second time in franchise history they had won the season series against them.