EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Andrew Bynum was helpless to stop the Boston Celtics’ pummeling of the Lakers in the NBA Finals a year ago. He’s finally getting a chance to do something about bringing a title to Los Angeles.
Even with an awkward brace on his surgically repaired knee, Bynum had the best start of any Lakers player in the 100-75 Game 1 victory against Orlando. He had eight points and four rebounds playing just under 9 minutes in the first quarter.
"That’s what we want, that early inside presence out there in the ballgame, and the combination of Pau (Gasol) and Drew out there gave us that impact,” coach Phil Jackson said.
At the same time, Bynum was helping hold down Dwight Howard, who made just one shot in the game.
"That was part of our game plan, just keep him away from the basket and make him shoot shots,” Bynum said.
Still a pro basketball baby at 21, Bynum has endured two major knee injuries since becoming the youngest player ever drafted three years ago.
He was rapidly coming of age in January 2008 — shooting a league-best 64 percent — when he went up for a rebound in a game and came down on teammate Lamar Odom’s foot.