Friday, January 30, 2009

Bryant and Bynum Helped Lakers Rout Timberwolves

Andrew Bynum bulled his way inside for his fifth straight double-double performance with 27 points and 15 rebounds, providing the perfect complement to Kobe Bryant's 30 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and the Lakers started a six-game road trip with a 132-119 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Minnesota was recently one of the hottest teams in the league having won 10 of their last 13 games for the second-best record in January. But they are no match for the Lakers.

Pau Gasol rebounded from a bad game against Charlotte where he scored only 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. This time, Gasol had 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting and nine rebounds. Luke Walton played efficiently scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 18 minutes. Derek Fisher added 10 points.

Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar contributed 10 points each off-the-bench. Trevor Ariza was cleared to play after a CT scan and MRI test came back. Ariza left Tuesday's game against Charlotte with a concussion. He scored eight points in 23 minutes in this game.

Bynum is a big reason why the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference.

"He looks very confident in there right now," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I think this is a stepping-out point for him. He's a better player now than he was when he got hurt last year, but it's taken him this month, January, to get back and feel like, 'OK, I'm over my injury, it was a year ago, and I'm prepared to go forth and put this effort into it,' and he's done a great job."

Bynum, the reigning Western Conference player of the week, helped the Lakers make up for a frustrating double-overtime loss at home to Charlotte on Tuesday.

"We're starting to expect it from him because he's being aggressive. He's being assertive," Bryant said. "He's finding his niche and where he can operate in the offense. I like it. I like it a lot."

"Some teams don't have one guy that can post up and play the center position," Bynum said. "We actually have two that can do it pretty well. I think the game plan should always be to go inside. We know what Kobe can do. Offensively I think we've kind of figured it out and we know what's going to happen."

Al Jefferson led the way for the Timberwolves, scoring 34 points and pulling down 13 rebounds for his 25th double-double of the season. Randy Foye scored 27 points on 8-of-20 shooting. Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively.


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