Lakers center Andrew Bynum started his first game of the season at New Orleans on Wednesday night to quite a positive effect, as he scored a season-high 18 points in 30 minutes while grabbing six boards in a 103-88 victory. He answered questions after the game to discuss the contest, how his knee felt and what he thinks his return to the starting line up does for the Lakers:
On what moving back to the starting line up did and why it happened:
Bynum: I’ve been consciously trying to play well. I think that’s what you need to do, put that out in the universe and stay focused, and it comes back (to you). I put the work in at practice, and I think (Phil Jackson) just wanted to start me today because of the matchup with (Emeka) Okafor. That moved Pau to David West, and they really have a problem guarding two seven footers out there, so we could really attack this team with our length and that’s what we tried to do.
On if his two early dunks helped him build confidence mentally:
Bynum: Yes and no. I know that I still have some explosiveness to get back, some athleticism to get back. It’s just unfortunate that inside the season it’s tough to train off the court when you’re trying to get back. It’ll come in time, and I’ll be back to jumping (normally).
On being aggressive near the rim and establishing position:
Bynum: I’ve been working with (assistant coach) Chuck (Person) in that regard, trying to make sure that every single time the ball is opposite and my guy takes his eyes off me I really try to post up deep in the lane so I can be effective. If you lose a step or something like that you have to put yourself in spots to be effective, and I think that’s what I’m kind of doing.
On if starting makes a big difference:
Bynum: No, not really. I pretty much know, I’ve been (in the league) for six years. I know where I can be effective on the court, and how to get there. The only thing is doing it and staying healthy. I’m on my way back to being 100 percent. I’m going to just feel more comfortable out there on the block and play with my teammates. Obviously the first unit, they understand how to get me the ball, with Fish (Derek Fisher) and Kobe (Bryant).
On being called in by New Orleans to shoot two free throws after Matt Barnes was ejected:
Bynum: Oh yeah, that was crazy. I guess (Hornets Coach Monty Williams) watched the San Antonio game so he kinda figured that I couldn’t shoot ‘em. I was able to go out there and knock two down so hopefully I can build on that.
On his very positive relationship with Lamar Odom, who returned to the bench:
Bynum: He keeps everything light, man, that’s the best thing about him. He’s just a great guy, he’s funny as heck, and he understands the dynamic of the team. He understands that when he’s out there with the second unit he takes control of the game, and he’s able to do whatever he wants to do. It’s a fast break offense with that second unit, and he’s able to captain it and take hold of it. Basically, I think we just have two different ways of attacking and it makes us that much more effective. We come in one way and attack with length and power, and then the other way we come in with speed an finesse, and it just confuses teams a little bit.
On if there were a return to normalcy with the starting line up back from the playoffs:
Bynum: I think me just being a part of the rotation just kinda helps our team, just gives us that dual dynamic where we can switch up the flow in the game. I think that’s the biggest thing it does, and then it cuts guys’ minutes down. Being a part of the rotation helps, we get easy buckets, and defensively we’ll also change because we’ll plug (the paint) more with (Gasol and me) and then they’ll get a different look when L.O. (Odom) is in the game because he’s a little more active and he’s going to show and deflect balls.
On where his knee affects him:
Bynum: When I come in the game, it’s OK. The problem is when you sit down for a while it kinda gets stiff. That’s something that can be solved with the elliptical and bike. It affects me the most offensively, when you need to get that second jump or get that second or third effort on the offensive boards and things like that … just being able to stop, get yourself gathered and get back on defense is (still) coming.