Lakers 100 vs. Blazers 86
Bynum vs. Oden. Oden vs. Bynum. This will be the storied matchup for years to come. Due to Oden’s injury during their first ever NBA matchup during the Lakers’ season-opener, face-time between the two was very limited. However, it was clear that Bynum would come out to play during this game because Oden did have a monster block against Bynum their first go-round. Their matchup last night did not seem epic mainly due to the fact that neither exactly filled up the box score. Oden finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 0 blocks. Bynum finished with 4 points, 10 rebounds and 1 block. So who played better?
Oden was a bit better on offense than Bynum was last night. That was because Oden got post position very deep in the paint. Oden is just a beast. Oden was the most physically imposing player last night. Even when Bynum did ask for the ball in the post, the Laker wingmen often swung the ball to the other side of the floor because Oden pushed Bynum out to the elbow area. Bynum is essentially useless out here. Bynum could not seal this guy. However, this is not a knock on Bynum. Oden did the same thing against Garnett and Kendrick Perkins in the Blazer victory over the Celtics last week. It will be interesting how his physicality compares with that of Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal. This post position also enabled Oden to get to the charity strike 7 times last night, the most by any Blazer.
Bynum was a lot better on defense than Oden. Even when Oden did back Bynum very deep into the paint, Bynum did a fairly decent job of playing position defense. He was always right between Oden and the hoop at all times. When a guy like Bynum can play position defense well, it is very effective because his added length makes the shot for the offensive player that much more difficult. Bynum also finished with 6 more rebounds and one more block than Oden. There were countless times that Bynum’s activity on the defensive end resulted in Laker steals on the perimeter or poor shots by the Blazers. Altering shots is just as much a part of defense as blocking shots is and Bynum was effective in doing that.
In the end, the matchup was fairly equal. More than the numbers, the exciting thing to watch was the wrestling match in the post. In fact, it would have been even more entertaining had either team not thrown help defenders at them causing them to pass the ball back out. Watching Bynum front Oden in the first half, while watching Oden force his way in the block was amazing. It was truly a bruising affair. It wasn’t exactly pretty basketball, but it was gangsta.
If you wanted to see pretty basketball, it was definitely the LaMarcus Aldridge vs. Pau Gasol matchup. These guys are just offensive machines. Though Gasol’s skill set is more playoff-proof, you can tell that Aldridge is going to be a star in this league. You just know the Bulls are banging their heads on a table for letting him go. Aldridge was 11-19 from the field finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Gasol was equally as effective finishing with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while he was 7-9 from the field. Both seem to be able to hit shots regardless of the speed or complexion of the game. Aldridge still hit fadeaways consistently even when the Blazers were down big. The momentum going against him didn’t seem to bother him.
These two teams are the hottest young teams to look out for out west. Though Brandon Roy is injured at the moment, even his matchup with Kobe Bryant is one to watch as well. So there you go. Three fairly even matchups in the starting lineup. We’ll see what the Lakers are made of once they travel to Portland. The Lakers haven’t won at the Rose Garden for god knows how many years.