Fighting to stay alive by tying the series in Game 4 on Sunday, the Denver Nuggets expect Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum to make some noise. Bynum, after blocking 10 shots and registering a triple-double in Game 1, followed up with a playoff career-high 27 points in Game 2.
But Bynum said he had no firepower and wasn't prepared for Game 3 at Denver, where he finished scoreless in the first half of a 99-84 loss to the Nuggets. The only way to control the tempo early is pure dominance from Bynum, who can get off to a good start by staying disruptive inside that could limit the Nuggets from driving strongly to the basket. It wasn't easy without Bynum's toughness in Game 3, a game that the Nuggets finished at the rim.
The seven-footer is substantial to the Lakers' run for a championship, and can rebound with great footwork and energy. The 24-year-old center, who overcame a slow start in the first half, scored all 18 of his points in the third and fourth quarters and finished Game 3 with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
He is their star, and his absence has diminished the Lakers. His weakness was exposed, when he was confused by Denver's double-teams, attempting only three shots in the first half. He couldn't corral rebounds, as well, but he wasn't too pleased with himself after it was over.
The Lakers, with their big man citing that he'll be ready on Sunday, have insisted they will be much better than the prior loss that raised a few eyebrows. When Bynum is playing at full strength, JaVale McGee, who had 16 points and outrebounded him in a breakthrough performance, won't have a chance at bullying or even scoring double-digit points.
He's really that player who can change the dynamics of a game with his size, balance and footwork. McGee knows that all too well. If Bynum plays superbly, McGee and the Nuggets are no match for him.
For more news and notes on the Lakers or this first round playoff series against Denver, be sure to read Silver Screen and Roll.