As Andy mentioned in his postgame wrap, Sunday night was as complete a game as the Lakers have played in a while, as they knocked off New York 109-87. L.A. racked up 109 points despite low efficiency (though often effective) nights from Pau Gasol (five-for-13 from the floor) and Kobe Bryant (10-of-28), outrebounded the undersized Knicks 61-42, including 17 offensive boards helping provide 28 second chance points, outscored them by 20 in the paint, and, perhaps most importantly, held the Knicks to 36 percent shooting.
Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Amare Stoudemire made only 19 of their 56 shots (34 percent). That'll beat New York every time.
All of this was outstanding stuff, worthy of comment. Still, after the game much of the talk was about the ejection of Andrew Bynum, which came barely 30 seconds into the fourth quarter. Whistled for a foul after contesting a Stoudemire shot- he got all ball, by the way- Bynum turned to referee Leon Wood and asked repeatedly, "Are you serious?"
Apparently, yes, he was. Wood T'd up Bynum, and when Bynum kept asking, did it again sending L.A.'s young center to an early shower after 18 points, seven boards, and two blocks on the night. "I'm pretty surprised," Bynum said. "You can watch the telecast again. You can read my lips, I'm saying, 'Are you serious?' He's a grown man, I don't know if I showed him up or not. I'm not sure."
Clearly Wood thought so.
"He wouldn't acknowledge me," Bynum said. "I asked him a question and he kind of, like. put his head down like a bad Lab or something."
By "Lab," Bynum meant a Labrador. Like the dog. Yellow? Chocolate? Black? English? Red? He wasn't that specific. Either way, Bynum's comments could very well be enough to retrieve (Get it? Retrieve... Labrador?) a fine from the league, whose policy prohibiting the criticism of officials likely includes comparisons to shamed canines. At least if he felt compelled to lighten his wallet, Bynum did so with a pretty good line.
(Bynum was one of three Lakers to pick up a technical foul Sunday night, something becoming a little too commonplace for the Lakers, who as Dave McMenamin notes have picked up 16 of them over the last 10 games.)
Bynum spoke as well about the defense L.A. played on the Knicks and Amare, and the continuing improvement he's seen in his knee:
Click below for more video from Kobe Bryant, who praises the Lakers (and delivers his BCS title game pick!) and their defensive effort, Phil Jackson, Lamar Odom, and Pau Gasol.
As is often the case when the Lakers play well, Jackson was careful not to go overboard in his praise, noting not everything about New York's low percentage from the floor is attributable to L.A.'s defense. "I thought we had a relatively good plan, and we executed it ok. Not great, but ok. The first unit was pretty good at it, the second unit had a little struggle with it," he said. "But the adjustments that we have to make from game to game, I think we're coming together a bit more on our defensive ideas."
I asked if he thinks Gasol, who logged his second straight positive game, has turned a corner. "I think so. Just being alert, and thinking ahead. [It's a] process I think he's got to go through, I think he got a little bit numb playing a lot of minutes, and now that he's [playing] shorter minutes I think it's really helping him be more energetic out there on the floor."
While acknowledging the Knicks certainly missed some shots they might on other nights make, Kobe praised L.A.'s defensive effort, and also showed he's a dedicated company man when it comes to choosing loyalties for this week's BCS title game:
Lamar Odom, on the team's ability to get the ball inside, Bynum's ejection, the team's play defensively, and more:
Gasol, on high quality frontcourt play, defense, and more:
Gasol clearly seemed sympathetic to Bynum, but noted Bynum needs to keep a clearer head. "He reacted to a call the referee made. Obviously he didn't agree with it, but once they call the first tech, you have to back off. You've just got to back off. No matter what you say, [or] gestures itself, it's going to put the referee in a spot, and put him in a spot to throw you out. You have to contain yourself. Maybe talk to them in a timeout, or a free throw, and tell him that he missed that call."
Very true. There's an onus on Bynum to do a better job controlling his emotions. At the same time, it was a horrible bit of officiating by Wood.
The first T was a little sensitive, but livable. After that, walk away. Take a few extra steps to the scorer's table to log the call, especially knowing Bynum had teammates pulling him away. Just walk away, because in the grand scheme of things, repeatedly asking "Are you serious?" is a lot less than you'll hear on the court over the course of a game.