Among the angles explored after L.A.'s 106-98 win over the Timberwolves Friday night at Staples was whether or not the foul Andrew Bynum laid on Michael Beasley in the fourth quarter, good for a flagrant 2 call and the automatic ejection coming with it, was a signal the Lakers would be tougher inside. Adopting a sort of none shall pass/not in my house, so to speak, depending if you prefer to go Gandalf or Nelly with this one. Jackson acknowledged by reputation, at least, the Lakers bigs aren't known for toughness as toughness at those positions is, rightly or wrongly, often defined.
With that in mind, I asked Jackson if Bynum made a "tough" play.
"No. It was a frustrated play," Jackson said. "He was frustrated. He got fouled, didn't get fouled or whatever happened on the play before was kind of a frustrating play and he reacted in a way in which I'm sure the league will look at and wonder."
Jackson did say, and Pau Gasol agreed, he doesn't think Bynum deserves a suspension for the play. Not that I'd expect either to demand Stu Jackson and David Stern throw the book at him. For what it's worth, my unscientific straw poll of media members after the game leaned heavily towards Bynum earning a game on the sidelines, particularly in light of the hard foul he delivered against Gerald Wallace back in 2009. Like the penal system, the NBA frowns upon recidivists. Personally, I think a single-game suspension is completely warranted, and would be surprised if he escapes without one. I don't object to hard or message fouls, but it's incumbent on players to deliver them in ways not resulting in ejections and possible disciplinary action. It can be done.
We'll get a verdict Saturday on Bynum, I'm sure.
Kobe Bryant, meanwhile, would probably just as soon forget his night. Beyond a rough shooting line (six-of-17) and four turnovers, he missed the start of the second half to receive additional treatment on his injured left ankle ("It was really stiff," he said), and took an accidental head-to-jaw shot from Martell Webster, leaving Bryant with soreness in his neck. No surprise he described himself as [gosh darned peeved] after the game.
While there's no reason to believe Bryant won't play Sunday, Jackson expressed at least some degree of caution. "We'll talk about it [Saturday]," Jackson said. "I'm sure he's going to say no [he won't sit], but we'll definitely talk about it and see exactly how he's doing, and if there's anything bothering him [that could impact] the next game."
Interesting stuff in the clip below from Jackson, not just on the Bynum flagrant, but also Pau Gasol's effort. Very strong- game saving in many ways- on the offensive end, but not so much at the other. "Defensively, he still has work cut out. He used to be the best guy we had out there on screen rolls. That's part of his game he's got to get back, and get back to being that kind of guy who stops people on screen rolls," he said. "And rebounding wise, he hasn't been in double figure rebounding for three or four games."
That Jackson found ample space to criticize his leading scorer reflects the sort of night it was for the Lakers. Inconsistent in even the best moments, but in the end good enough to get 'er done.
More below from Jackson, Gasol, and Kobe.
Jackson, on Gasol, Bynum, and more:
Bryant, on the game, Bynum's foul, and his health:
Gasol, on the game, Bynum, and his defense. Asked about Jackson's criticism, Gasol admitted he needs to be better.