NBA Playoffs 2011: If Andrew Bynum Doesn’t Close Games, LA Lakers Won’t Succeed

Since the All-Star break, Andrew Bynum has been a beast for the Lakers.

The young center has averaged 11.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 60 percent from the field—the highest percentage of any player who averaged over 30 minutes per game.

Few defenders in the league can cover Bynum.

He is listed at 7’0”, but stands much taller than almost every other “seven-footer” he competes against.

For a player of his brute strength, he is agile and has a soft shooting touch.

Bynum is one of the best back-to-the-basket big men in the league and is unstoppable when he is on his game. Few teams in the league have a player of his size and skill.

Despite all of this, Bynum has not been closing games for the Lakers. He usually plays a good chunk of the fourth quarter before being asked to ride the bench during the last few minutes.

A recent example is when the Lakers played the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 10.

The Lakers were down by two points when Bynum subbed out of the game with 2:46 remaining. He never returned, as coach Phil Jackson made the executive decision to finish with a smaller lineup.

With Bynum on the bench, LA was outscored by 12 points and ended up losing, 106-120.

The loss to the Thunder was not an isolated event. The Lakers struggled at the end of the regular season and went on a five-game losing streak. This was the first time they had lost five straight since 2006-2007—the last year of the Smush Parker/Kwame Brown era.

Is it simply chance that the awful losing streak coincided with the team’s refusal to play Bynum at the end of games?

Coach Phil Jackson has elected to close games with the lineup of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.

Now Artest and Fisher are both good players, but neither of them are curren...

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