Last Two Games Show How Much Lakers Miss Bynum

George Karl is wrong.

The Denver Nuggets coach suggested last week the Lakers might be a better team without Andrew Bynum. The idea makes some sense in Karl’s utopia where no defense is ever played — the Lakers offense is more fluid with Odom starting for Bynum, the ball movement and player movement is much more crisp.

But basketball has two ends of the floor, and on defense the Lakers really miss Bynum. That was evidenced in the last two games.

They miss Bynum’s shot blocking  — the last two games saw a parade of Nuggets and Suns players getting by their man and getting to the lane with limited resistance, making it look too much like last year’s finals. Pau Gasol may be 7 feet tall, but he is not by nature a shot blocker, however Bynum is and when he plays the parade is over.

They miss the depth Bynum provides — Kobe (with 49)  and Gasol (30) were the only Lakers to score in double digits against the Suns. Bynum would have gotten there just on offensive rebounds and a couple fast breaks alone, and the few games before he went down he was averaging nearly 20 a game. Plus, when Lamar Odom got in foul trouble — including on some questionable calls — the Lakers had no other quality front-line players to counter the Suns.

That means countering Shaq. Bynum is the only hope the Lakers have trying to slow down Shaq in the paint, or for that matter Yao Ming or a host of other true centers. Gasol gave it his best effort, but he gives up at least 50 pounds and a lot of leverage to Shaq, Bynum has the size and the long arms to give the Big Whatever-He-Is-This-Week fits..

The Lakers will go as far in the playoffs as their defense will take them. And without Bynum, their defense is lacking. Right now Bynum is riding a stationary bike and is on target for an April return. Lakers fans need to send a lot of get well cards to remind Bynum just how much he is missed and needed.

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