Before embarking on an increasingly popular holiday called "Bynum Fest," let's address more serious matters: Kobe Bryant's ankle.
Given the severity of Saturday's sprain in Dallas, The Mamba was as surprised as anybody else at how the swelling went down in such rapid fashion over 48 hours. "It was like the size of a softball in Dallas," noted Bryant. "And the next day, it was a baseball. And then, it was like a Lacrosse ball. Or a golf ball." Still, being physically able to lace 'em up isn't the same thing as feeling confident about your health. During the first half, Kobe was favoring the bad wheel, which led to awkward balance and errant shots. It took some advice from a future Hall of Famer to finally conquer the mental block.
"At halftime, I kind of had to give myself a little pep talk. 'Stop acting like a (wimp). Just go out and there play and shoot my shots.'
Click below the jump for more videos from Andrew Bynum,Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher.
The man of the hour in the Lakers locker room was undoubtedly Andrew Bynum, he of the 18 rebound/10 point/four block performance. The center described his mentality since the All-Star break as "just going hard and trying to get every rebound. That's all I'm focusing on." I noted how this type of focus (D and rebounds first, scoring as an afterthought) has been presented as a role for Drew in the past, but he never reacted with this much enthusiasm. What's changed of late?
"I just think it's because I've realized it's a way to get into the game without having to dominate the ball on offense. We have scorers on this team. It's just a way to keep your energy level high . . . I just did it a couple of times and was like, wow, it works."
According to one media member, his older listeners have been calling Drew's recent play "Bill Russell-like." Solid props indeed, and arguably a little much. (I get the connection, and Bynum has been seriously dominant, but a larger sample size is probably needed before going there.) But lest anybody be concerned being mentioned in the same breath as basketball's greatest defensive player would swell the youngster's head, fear not:
"They're gonna go either way (with their praise). If I play badly, they're gonna tell you something else. I don't have time to really listen to what other people are saying. All I can do is try to get rebounds."
I really liked this quote from Lamar Odom regarding Drew's evolution over the last few weeks. "His game has grown," said the southpaw. "Even from when he first came back to now, his understanding for the game, his understanding for what the team needs and when we need it."
More on Bynum, this time from Derek Fisher:
Phil Jackson, on Bynum, Kobe's health and the win over Orlando.