The Los Angeles Lakers were outclassed by the Denver Nuggets 113-96 in Game 6 of their first round NBA playoff series on Thursday night, and much of the immediate criticism has fallen on Andrew Bynum, who absentmindedly said before Game 5 that close-out games were "easy," something the Lakers haven't shown by losing the last two games.
Bynum had 11 points and 16 rebounds in Game 6 but he also shot 4-for-11 from the field and sulked during timeouts, apart from the team.
On TNT's Inside the NBA postgame show, former Lakers center Shaquille O`Neal had strong words for Bynum, a player O'Neal had called the best big man in the game, better than Dwight Howard, earlier this season.
"Big Dog, luckily for you, you have two rings as a Laker. Sometimes they say you're great, sometimes they you're not. But when Mr. Bryant leaves, possibly this could be your team," O'Neal said. "So you need to learn how to be a leader now. The younger guys and the younger big men in the league, they're looking up to you, and what you did right there was selfish.
"You're not playing. Four [field goals], 16 rebounds. Not good enough. If you want to be up there next to Kareem, Wilt, and maybe Shaq one day, it's not good enough. If you think it's good enough, look at their numbers. I know you got two championships, but you're supposed to have three, you're supposed to have four.
"Again, as a big man, if we lose this game, it ain't the guards' fault, it ain't Pau's fault, it ain't Sessions' fault. It's your fault, because you're supposed to be the next great one."
Bynum had a triple-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocks in Game 1, and had a career playoff high 27 points in Game 2, both wins for the Lakers. If Los Angeles is to advance to the second round, Bynum is going to need to have a big Game 7 on Saturday night.
For more news and notes on Lakers basketball or on this first round NBA playoff series, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.