LA Lakers: Andrew Bynum’s Defense Will Lead Them on a Deep Playoff Run

A funny thing happened to the Los Angeles Lakers on their way to the NBA trading deadline: absolutely nothing.  And then the real Andrew Bynum showed up and all seemed right in Lakers Nation.

The 23-year-old 7'0" center finally appears to be almost 100 percent recovered and rehabilitated from knee surgery last summer.  He’s become “the energy guy” for the Lakers' starting five, an absolute beast on the boards and the spark that’s led Los Angeles to 10 wins in their last 11 games since the All-Star break in mid-February.

Along the way, Los Angles has defeated top-tier teams on the road, including San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Portland and Atlanta.  Their defense has stiffened and much of the credit must go to Bynum. 

He’s averaging close to 16 rebounds in his last six games and is blocking shots like a man possessed.  Since the All-Star break, Bynum is averaging 11.9 points, 12.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.  He dominated with 15 boards and 22 points in the win over the Mavs, before meeting up with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Monday.

I think most diehard Lakers fans would be lying through their anxiety-ridden, nerve chattering teeth if they felt certain that Bynum would make this sort of recovery, turning himself into a sudden force in the middle and playing at a level that puts him among the elite centers in the game.

‘Drew seemed to play with a very large, productive chip on his shoulder Monday night when Orlando came to Staples Center.  There’s been an abundance of talk this season about shipping Bynum elsewhere and even more conversation about the possibilities of signing Magic center Dwight Howard to a big Lakers contract when his current one expires in Orlando in 2012.

Bynum took control early and often against Howard and the Magic.  His first quarter performance of 11 rebounds, six points and thr...

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