Monday, February 2, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Wow. Andrew Bynum is out for two or three months. That's a huge blow to the Lakers, who just got back to full strength after injuries depleted their bench for a couple of months. Bynum should be back sometime in April, just as the playoffs are starting. That was about the same time he was due back from a different knee injury last year, and he never came back. His absence in the playoffs would be devastating to the Lakers' chances to overcome the Celtics or beat the improved Cavaliers in the Finals. L.A. would be too reliant on the perimeter and the high-post game of Pau Gasol. Bynum was their only full-time low-post presence, and the Lakers can only hope he'll be ready for the stretch run.

2. Yes, the Thunder lost again last night, 122-118 in overtime to the Kings, but they have to be excited by what they got out of Russell Westbrook. The rookie point guard got to the line a whopping 22 times en route to a career-high 34 points, supplementing that total with eight assists and six rebounds. Oklahoma City's second-year forwards were sparkling, too, as Kevin Durant had 33 points and Jeff Green had 28 plus 13 rebounds. They are in a lot better shape than many believed when they got off to a 2-24 start.

3. Yes, that's a fork sticking out of the Detroit Pistons, who are 0-2 on a critical three-game homestand. They were thoroughly outclassed Friday by a Celtics team they met in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and Sunday they blew a lead to the Cavs when Mo Williams and Boobie Gibson went on a two-man 15-2 run against them in the fourth quarter. That was on the heels of their first losing month as a franchise since February 2004, which just so happens to have been the month they acquired Rasheed Wallace and became a truly elite, title-contending team. Wallace, perhaps not coincidentally, played poorly Sunday, with only nine points on 4-for-11 shooting, six rebounds and not a single assist. They face Miami on Wednesday, a team that's caught them in the standings and with a win could relegate the Pistons, who have been in six straight conference finals, to sixth place in the East.

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