Andrew Bynum returned to action for the Lakers for the first time in nine months, and mostly looked sharp. He contributed 15 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes of play, including some nice mid-range shots that showcased his soft touch. Kurt Rambishad these comments on Bynum's performance:
"He's shown some really good things out there and then he's shown some things that he definitely needs to improve upon," said assistant coach Kurt Rambis. "We keep impressing upon him that he's got to do a much better job of running the floor to both ends and that he's got to do a much better job of anchoring our defense. It's a big man's responsibility to not only control his man but be the support man and the help man whenever people are driving to the basket."
Bynum began the game on the bench, likely a message sent to him by the coaching staff, who has recently criticized young Andrew's efforts in practice. The Lakers went with Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant to open the pre-season. Phil Jackson had said that he might not play Kobe in the pre-season to allow him to rest, but it was Jackson instead who sat this one out. He's been experiencing swelling in his legs, so he stayed home, and will likely do so for the team's trip to Fresno as well. His condition is not believed to be serious or anything that will be a long-term issue.
Kobe played 24 minutes (the first and third quarters), and chipped in eight points, five rebounds, and five assists. Pau Gasol played just five minutes, and did not return after sustaining a cut to his lip. Derek Fisher had the play of the night, an over-the-head pass from a seated position to Andrew Bynum that must be seen to be believed.
By the way, the Lakers lost to the Jazz 99-90, but obviously the final score means little in these contests. What matters most is that Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza are back in the fold after missing most of last season with injuries, which adds a great deal of talent to a team that went to the NBA Finals a season ago without them.