A lot was made after the game of the shoulder Andrew Bynum tossed at OKC's Jeff Green following a pile up under the Oklahoma City basket in the first quarter. As Green peeled himself off the floor and started up court, Bynum threw a shoulder at him. It was pretty blatant, and I'm pretty sure of the 36,000-plus eyes in the building, the six belonging to the trio of officials were the only ones who missed it. Bynum felt he was pushed by Green, and wasn't going to take it. Or he might have been pushed by Green.
"Well that, it was a response. Because I kind of got taken out on that same play. I didn't know if he fell into me, or he pushed me. But I wasn't just gonna let that happen without retaliating," Bynum said. "That's just part of being aggressive, part of just letting people know and having a presence out there."
At times Sunday it seemed Artest's entire focus was on Durant, on chasing him through pick-and-rolls, making him uncomfortable, on getting something -- a hand or an arm or an elbow -- in Durant's face every time he shot. About the only time Artest took his focus off the lanky 6-foot-9 Texan came as the final buzzer sounded and purple and gold confetti fell from the rafters.
Artest stood proudly, arms on his waist, looking up into the crowd and savoring his first playoff win as a Laker. Durant walked off the court quickly, pulling his jersey out of his shorts with about three seconds left in the game, eyes down except for one last check of the scoreboard on the way into the locker room.
Bynum returned from his 13-game absence to score 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting, while tying his playoff-career highs in rebounds (12) and blocks (four) and playing 31 minutes when Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he only planned to play him for 24. His presence helped Gasol gather 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks of his own. And with the Lakers center came the centered focus of a team that looks ready to turn this April into the start of a championship march."The more I keep playing with this aggressive nature, I think I'm going to get better at it and I think my teammates will trust me even more with the basketball and we'll just keep building," Bynum said.
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