Bynum, Gasol atone for Kobe’s absence


The Lakers, behind Andrew Bynum’s gaudy — yeah, understatement of the year — performance, dismantled the Spurs by 14 points.

Bynum (16 points, 30 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (21 points, 11 rebounds) were particularly adroit down low. The imposing tandem typically averages six offensive rebounds. Tonight that number was 11.

Not only did the Spurs have to combat with their insufficient girth down low — DeJuan Blair, especially, was manhandled by Bynum — but Metta World Peace also poured in a season-high 26 points, which included five 3-pointers. Matt Barnes and Steve Blake also attributed to the cause, scoring 23 points off the bench on five 3-pointers and 60 percent shooting.

Apr 11, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace (15) drives to the basket as San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (left) defends during the first half at the AT

Blair’s size adversely affects him against teams like the Lakers. His energy is usually top notch but, for the Spurs to effectively utilize his services, Blair has to be implemented into the rotation in short moderation. Tonight that meant very moderation. Blair logged 13:22 (only 1:43 came in the second half) and did not score tonight on 0-for-2 shooting. It’s pretty apparent that the Spurs either need to completely cut him out of the rotation against the Lakers or play Matt Bonner — whose ability to space the floor will be invaluable because of the attention he will receive from either Pau or Bynum — considerably more. Preferably both, in my opinion.

Bonner played reasonably effectively (I use effectively loosely here; no Spur played well tonight) in 19:30, scoring nine points off the bench on 3-of-7 shooting. His three baskets were all 3-pointers.

The strategic adjustment that Popovich made, specifically, was playing Duncan — the third best defensive rebounder in the entire league — on Bynum and Diaw on Gasol. It didn’t work too well (nothing really did) considering the Lakers began the third quarter on a 10-2 run with contributions from Bynum, Gasol, Peace and Ramon Sessions. The move did, however, seem to prevent Bynum from absolutely obliterating our frontline in the second half. Bynum only grabbed 11 rebounds in the second half, none of which were offensive rebounds.

In the first half there were four lead changes and three ties; that wasn’t the case in the second half. The Lakers quickly raced out of the starting gate and continued to pour on the points on a Spurs fan base that aren’t accustomed to losing multiple games in a row. This was the fourth time the Spurs have experienced an actual losing streak, the longest of which is two games.

It was the third quarter where the Spurs witnessed an impressive performance from the artist formerly known as Ron Artest. Peace scored 11 points during the quarter, the majority coming on shots that had a high degree of difficulty.

Swingman Danny Green made it respectable late in the fourth quarter. Green knocked down four 3-pointers en route to 14 points for the quarter alone. Other than that, the Spurs played with little to no wherewithal. Tony Parker (four points on 2-of-12 shooting) didn’t get to the rim with the same regularity and when he managed to get into the teeth of the defense, he couldn’t finish. Awful night for him, the worst I’ve seen him play all year.

Duncan scored 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting but I felt he settled for too many long 2-pointers. Manu left a lot to be desired in the second half, scoring three points on 1-of-3 shooting.

The Spurs and Lakers will still face other twice, so the season series isn’t even close to settled. Kobe will probably play and I feel like his on-court voracity will hamper the Lakers’ offense from taking advantage of their insurmountable advantage down low. Running the offense through their bigs will always be more efficient, even the most devout Lakers fans should realize that Kobe’s 7.8 attempts from 16-23 feet don’t really help the team.

A quick bounce back will be necessary, though. The Spurs will welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to the AT&T Center for the second game of a back-to-back tomorrow. Opening tip is scheduled for 7:30 CST.

Game notes.Some Bynum tidbits to start off (ugh): He grabbed seven more offensive rebounds than the Spurs … the Spurs grabbed three more rebounds than Bynum had total … A player accumulating 30-plus rebounds has happened 13 other times since the 1985-86 season … The last 30-plus rebound night happened in 2010; Kevin Love grabbed 31 points in a win over the New York Knicks … Bynum, Gasol and Peace combined for 63 points and 45 rebounds … Devin Ebanks, starting for Kobe Bryant, went scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in 22:49 … Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker shot 12-of-34 (35.3 percent) … The Spurs assisted on 78.8 percent of their shots … LA assisted on 57.5 percent of their shots … Parker dished out eight assists … DeJuan Blair didn’t sniff the court after Popovich made a strategic adjustment in the second half … Manu surpassed the 10,000th point total tonight; he finished with nine points on 3-of-8 shooting … Matt Bonner passed Michael Finley for fourth all-time in 3-pointers … the Lakers outrebounded the Spurs (60-33) … A team grabbing 60-plus rebounds has only occurred 12 times this season … The Spurs bench scored 42 points on 42.1 percent shooting … 12 Spurs logged playing time compared to nine Lakers tonight … The Lakers’ bench 25 points on 58.8 percent shooting … San Antonio shot 54.2 percent behind the arc and 35.1 percent on 2-pointers … Los Angeles shot 47.8 percent from behind the arc and 43.9 percent on 2-pointers … The game finished in a speedy one hour and 53 minutes (mercifully) …