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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mike Brown's Correct Decision to Bench Bynum (3.27.12)

While Kobe Bryant showed maturity and wisdom after his questionable benching against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, Andrew Bynum fully displayed his lack of regard for his teammates, the game of basketball, and the authority of Mike Brown Tuesday night. Kobe wisely stated that his benching was the coach's decision and he left it at that. He did not ignite any controversy and he seemed to accept the demotion with grace. Kobe Bryant definitely has the clout to call out Mike Brown on these types of things, but he kept his mouth closed and focused on winning the next game and working towards another championship.

The exact opposite can be said of Andrew Bynum's disastrous night. While Bynum has definitely improved as a player this year, his immaturity and arrogance have made some headlines throughout the year. Getting tossed out of the Houston game a week ago, Bynum cost the Lakers a win as the Rockets pounded the glass and killed the Lakers with second chance points. While that ejection may have been questionable, his game against the Warriors was outright disgusting. Bynum has admitted on multiple occasions this year that he has not played his hardest throughout certain games. This game was one of them. Andrew had many instances of being late on rotations and giving up easy buckets, jogging down the court and failing to get in position on defense, and notably just seeming disinterested. While everyone will focus on his horrible three point shot that prompted his benching, there were some troubling signs earlier in the game that foreshadowed this moment.

The Lakers opened the game with aggressive play. They attacked the rim early and fed the post often against the small ball Warriors. Pau Gasol dominated the glass with 8 rebounds in the first 8 minutes. At this point, no other Laker had a rebound besides Pau. This may have been an aberration, but for Andrew Bynum not to have a rebound in the first eight minutes, something is wrong. Offensively, Bynum was active early. He received many post up opportunities. He cashed in on a beautiful alley pop as Kobe was in the far corner and lobbed it up and Bynum spun off his man and slammed in the alley oop. A minute later Bynum crashed the offensive glass for a nice putback, gathering his first rebound of the game. He finished the quarter 3-6 for 8 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist. He had a nice quarter, but his work on the glass needed to improve.

Bynum sat to start the second quarter. Josh McRoberts came in for him and provided a nice boost of energy with tough defense and smart offense. Bynum reentered the game with 5:56 left in the 2nd quarter. On his first defensive possession, Bynum was lazy and did not close out on David Lee. Lee hit a wide open 17 foot jumper. A minute later, Pau shot a jumper from the top of the key, Bynum worked hard on the glass to gather the offensive rebound, but the Warriors gathered it. The Warriors went down the floor, while Bynum jogged back. Dorrell Wright scored an easy layup because Bynum was not protecting the rim. A minute later, Kobe mishandled the ball. Kobe was on the near side driving baseline and went through his legs for a step back, but the ball bounced off his hand and out of bounds. Bynum was on the far block as Kobe turned the ball over. He immediately looked down as the ball went out and he threw his arms down in disgust. This demonstration was a definite sign of frustration.

The end of the half was pretty ugly for Andrew. With 2:51 left, Bynum was once again lazy on the pick and pop. Bynum shadowed the point guard, and the guard passed it back to Lee; Bynum was late on the recovery and Lee jabbed left and went right. Bynum fouled Lee as he shot and Lee sank both free throws. After the free throws, the Lakers came down and Pau received the ball on the far side elbow. Pau lobbed it to Bynum on the near side low block. Bynum got stuck under the rim and tried to reverse it; but his shot was blocked by Lee. Instead of hustling back on defense, Bynum stared at the ref for a couple of seconds and then jogged down the court. The Warriors raced down the court but didn't score. At this point, the telecast announcers, Stu Lantz and Bill McDonald, called out Bynum for not hustling back on defense. The next offensive possession, Kobe had the ball on the near side wing. Pau cut to the near side low block and Kobe fed him the ball. The Warriors were in a 2-3 zone. Pau held the ball as he surveyed the defense. Bynum was on the far side low block, with Richard Jefferson blocking him out. Pau jabbed and pumped for six seconds on the low block. Not once did 7'2" Andrew Bynum cut or move to the open space of the zone while 6'7" Richard Jefferson stood in his way. As Pau shot a fadeaway, Bynum drifted toward the free throw line while Metta World Peace crashed the offensive glass hard. Bynum stood upright the entire possession and just watched. Bynum definitely took this play off and he did not assert himself for an easy post entry. The next defensive possession, Bynum did not show on the pick and pop, and the guard had an easy wide open jumper and nailed it. Following that, the Lakers came down and Bynum posted up on the far side low block. Bynum called for the ball and he received it. The Warriors immediately doubled and he made the right pass, swinging it to Pau at the top of the key. Pau then swung it to the wide open World Peace in the corner. Metta missed and Pau crashed the glass and corralled the offensive rebound. Bynum stood and watched the entire time. Pau missed the putback and Bynum slowly jogged back down the floor as the Warriors hit an open 3. Once again Bynum posted up and Kobe fed him on the far block. Bynum was immediately doubled, but he went up strong and made the shot while getting fouled. Kobe promptly went over to Bynum and gave him a strong high give and slap on the stomach. It was obvious that Kobe was trying to pump up Bynum and get his head in the game. However, Bynum looked disinterested. Bynum's lack of focus was highlighted as he clanked his free throw off of the backboard and missed. Bynum has great form for a big man. This free throw clank was definitely a product of Bynum not focusing. Bynum finished the quarter 1-3 with 2 points and 2 rebounds. This put him at 4-9 for 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist. Bynum's lack of rebounds were the biggest indicator of his lack of effort. Couple that with his soft defense and the signs were all there for what would happen in the third quarter.

The Lakers began the 3rd up 55-48. The announcers reported the comments of the coaching staff during halftime, "Simple as focus." The coaching staff repeatedly stated that the Lakers needed to keep their focus. Obviously this was directed at Bynum. On the first play of the half, Bynum didn't show on the pick and roll and Klay Thompson hit an open jumper. The next defensive possession, Bynum showed on the pick and roll and Thompson missed the 3. Kobe gathered the board and raced down the court. Bynum ran hard with Kobe. Kobe went to the rim and tried to lay it off for Bynum, but the pass was low and went off of Bynum's leg. Bynum slapped his hands and pointed up, indicating that he wanted the lob. Bynum's effort was there, but his frustration once again boiled to the forefront. At the 10:15 mark, Bynum reeled in his fourth rebound and passed it to Sessions for the outlet. Sessions ran up the far side and stopped at the wing. Bynum caught up to the play as he ran down the middle of the floor. Sessions swung the ball to Bynum at the top of the 3 point line. Instead of running the motion offense, Bynum immediately caught the ball and fired up an ugly 3 point shot. Mike Brown immediately called over McRoberts to sub in for Bynum. Before a dead ball could arrive, Bynum was also beaten down court by Davide Lee, giving up an easy fast break layup. McRoberts came in and gave great energy and made some plays. Bynum sat for the rest of the quarter. With Bynum on the bench at the 4:46 mark, Stu stated, "Even if he had made the shot, you have to take him out. You cannot let the end result dictate what you are gonna do. If it's a bad shot, it's a bad shot. That's the way you send a message." Every basketball player takes a bad shot at one point or another, but this was egregious. Andrew Bynum rarely shoots 3's, unless it's a desperation heave at the end of a quarter. There is no excuse for Bynum to catch the ball with 16 seconds on the shot clock and fire a 3 point shot. The Lakers ended the quarter up 79-72.

Bynum reentered the game to start the fourth. Bynum was featured on the first possession but he missed. He hit MWP for a lay up on the second play, but MWP missed. Bynum played some good defense on Gladness and altered his shot on the following defensive possession. Blake grabbed the rebound, went up the court on the far side and stopped at the wing. Blake saw MWP establish post position in the middle of the lane and made the correct decision to swing the ball to the trailing Bynum at the top of the 3 point line. Almost exactly mirroring the previous setup for his 3 point shot, this time Bynum faked the 3 point shot, dribbled right and spun back left into the lane. Bynum shot and scored; however, World Peace was called for 3 seconds in the key. Instead of feeding MWP for the easy post lay in, Bynum decided to let his inner guard come out and play, and once again this was not the right decision. On the next possession Bynum established post position, made a strong move, missed, got his rebound and was fouled on the putback. Bynum missed the first free throw and Bill commented, "He just kind of went up there, didn't look like he had a whole lot of focus on that one." Bynum validated this statement by abandoning his normal free throw routine on his next shot. The ref tosses Bynum the ball and he took one bounce and quickly shot. Although he made it, it was obvious that Bynum was not entirely focused. He did not go through his normal routine of two bounces and a breathe in breathe out release. The next defensive play, Bynum was out of position and Rush drove by Blake on the far side wing and dunked the ball. Mike Brown had seen enough. McRoberts was quickly subbed in for Bynum at the 9:10 mark and Bill stated, "Andrew Bynum needs to get his head back in the game," to which Stu replied, "Well it's not gonna happen tonight." Andrew would not step on the court for the rest of the game. Bynum sat glued to his chair for that entire span. He laughed with some of the young guys, and he jokingly showed his follow through on his shot. He did not stand to join any of the huddles and he just lacked interest in the game. Bynum finished with 23 minutes, 4-13 shooting for 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. Kobe closed the game with two difficult jumpers and the Lakers held off the Warriors 104-101.

After the game Bynum continued to display his immaturity. He stated, "I don't know what was bench worthy about the shot, to be honest with you. I made one (against Memphis) and I wanted to make another one." Bynum then commented on his lack of support while sitting on the bench, "He took me out of the game, so I just sat where he put me." Bynum cemented his arrogance with this statement, "I guess, 'Don't take 3's' is the message, but I'm going to take another one, and I'm going to take some more, so I just hope it's not the same result." Bynum obviously needs to grow up. His lack of effort during the game was reprehensible even before the errant shot. His 3 point shot served to solidify his horrible night. His comments after the game confirmed his immaturity and lack of respect. Andrew Bynum is a great up and coming player. His desire to be featured on offense is obvious. However, it's nights like these where red flags go up concerning Andrew's future. If Andrew wants to carry the torch from Kobe sooner rather than later, then he needs to give 100% all game long. When Kobe has a bad game, no one questions his effort level. Some may question his shot selection, but no one ever questions his effort and desire to win. Andrew must play hard every second he is on the court. Not doing so hinders his much needed impact on the game and the organization. Andrew Bynum will be the next star of the Los Angeles Lakers. He needs to understand the responsibilities of being that star.

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