Bynum powers Lakers past Nuggets
LOS ANGELES - Reuters
The Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) rejects a shot by the Denver Nuggets guard Rudy Fernandez to record one of his two blocked shots during the two teams’ NBA meeting. AP photoCenter Andrew Bynum scored 29 points in his first game of the season after serving a suspension as the Los Angeles Lakers came from behind to beat the Denver Nuggets 92-89 on Dec. 31.
Bynum’s layup sent the Lakers ahead 91-89 with 1:52 to play as they powered past Denver’s five-point fourth-quarter lead.
He had been suspended for the first four games of the shortened NBA season because of a flagrant foul against Dallas in the Western Conference playoffs last season.
Bynum had been originally suspended for five games but that was reduced because of the shortened schedule.
The big man also had 13 rebounds and two blocked shots as new coach Mike Brown’s coaching style suited his play.
“They’re looking for me a lot and I’m a focal point early in the offense,” Bynum told reporters.
But he paid a price in the early going, he said.
“I was winded like crazy today,” the out-of-shape Bynum said. “First game ... I couldn’t breathe in the first six minutes.”
But even if he was winded, his domination inside was too much for the Nuggets to handle.
“His power around the basket, we haven’t seen it yet,” Denver coach George Karl told reporters. “We’ll have to make some adjustments on him, there’s no question.”
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol each added 17 points for the Lakers, who had started the season 0-2 but have now won three successive games.
Al Harrington led the Nuggets with 21 points.
The Nuggets had an 85-80 lead after Harrington’s three-pointer with five minutes to play.
But the Lakers pulled even at 89-89 on Bryant’s two free throws after Derek Fisher’s hustle to save the ball after missing a three-pointer.
Then Bynum blocked Nene Hilario’s layup attempt and got the go-ahead basket.
Meanwhile, Denver was drawing blanks.
“We get three layups and a couple free throws in the last three minutes of the game and we miss all of them,” Karl said.
“We gave them too much hope, from Bynum and that loose ball from Fisher, and we never got that defensive confidence because we didn’t rebound the ball.”
Meanwhile in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook scored 18 points and Daequan Cook hit four 3-pointers in quick succession as the Thunder led wire to wire in a 107-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Two nights after hitting a buzzer-beating game-winner against Dallas, Kevin Durant had only 12 points in his bid to become the first player since Michael Jordan a quarter-century earlier to score at least 30 in the first five games of a season. Hakim Warrick and rookie Markieff Morris had 15 points apiece for the Suns, who shot just 40 percent.
In Sacramento, California, Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points, Tyson Chandler had 18 of his 22 in the second half as the New York Knicks assumed control early in beating the Sacramento Kings 114-92.
The Knicks didn’t miss starting forward Amare Stoudemire, their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer who sat out with a sprained left ankle.
They got an unexpected lift from replacement Josh Harrellson, a rookie from Kentucky who made his first NBA start and had career highs of 14 points and 12 rebounds, and hit four 3-pointers.
Landry Fields had 21 points and Chandler added seven rebounds for the Knicks, who had struggled offensively in losing their previous two games, but had a season-high point total against the Kings. Toney Douglas had 17 points and eight assists. Marcus Thornton had 14 points for the struggling Kings. Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans had 13 points.