The LA Lakers’ Title Defense Rests with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol

Andrew Bynum may not be the most important piece to a Los Angeles Lakers' repeat, but as he demonstrated in Sunday's first round win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, his presence sure doesn't hurt.

Bynum made an emphatic return from a strained achilles' tendon, teaming with Pau Gasol to score a combined 32 points, and 25 rebounds, and blocking six shots in a dominant post performance from the pair.

On a night where Kobe Bryant again struggled with his shot, Bynum and Gasol showed why they are just as important to the Lakers' chances of repeating, and maybe even more so.

Bryant went 6-19 from the field and scored 21 points, but he took a back seat to Gasol and Bynum who dominated the smaller Thunder players with their strong play on both ends of the floor.

Bynum showed little rust from his injury and the two looked more comfortable playing together than they have at any point in the regular season, and just maybe since last year's NBA Finals.

Bynum and Gasol proved to be a perfect contrast in styles as Gasol operated mostly from the high post with finesse and footwork, while Bynum was over-powering at the rim.

Oklahoma City had no answer for the combination, and the defense of Ron Artest on Kevin Durant left little room for the Thunder to pull off an unlikely upset in the first game.

Durant scored 24 points but Artest harassed him all night, and the NBA's leading scorer was induced into a less than stellar performance in his first career playoff game.

On this night however, Gasol and Bynum stole the spotlight, and their dominance in the post highlighted an advantage few other teams can boast of in this year's playoffs.

Gasol and Bynum arguably comprise the top front court in the postseason, and no other team could withstand the poor performance from their star player, and still pull of a relatively easy win.

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