If you missed the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, you missed quite a show. It wasn't really a game -- the Lakers pushed to a 26-point lead and led by double-digits for the entire fourth quarter en route to a 98-84 victory -- but it was one hell of a spectacle. Kobe Bryant missed his third-straight game with tenosynovitis in his left shin, so Metta World Peace filled in with a game-high 26 points (his highest single-game total in three seasons with L.A.) on 10-15 shooting (!) to pace the offense. Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum chiseled his face into the Mount Rushmore of franchise rebounding and joined George Mikan, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Lakers franchise history to grab 30 or more rebounds in a game.
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Bynum snatched exactly 30 boards (22 defensive, eight offensive) in 37 minutes and almost out-rebounded the entire Spurs roster (32 rebounds), but after the game the mercurial big man focused in on his 7-20 shooting for just 16 points (via NBA.com):
"It's great to have 30 boards, but my shot's not working and I'm kind of a little upset about that," Bynum said. "For me, I'll remember shooting poorly (7-for-20)."
He actually refined his statement on the second try with reporters, because immediately after the game Bynum spoke with the on-court reporter and said he "shot the ball like sh*t" in a live interview. For Andrew Bynum fans scoring at home, it appears he: (a) still would like to shoot more three-pointers, (b) won't apologize for his recent ejection against the Houston Rockets and (c) thinks his 7-20 shooting performance overshadows a 30-rebound masterpiece. Got it? Good. Wait, what? If that doesn't confuse you, watch Bynum awkwardly try to steal the ball from teammate Steve Blake at the end of the game:
Anyways, this is just the beginning. The Lakers and Spurs will meet twice more in the regular season (April 17 on TNT and April 20 on ESPN) and could always reunite in the Western Conference playoffs. San Antonio currently holds the No. 2 seed, while LA is in the third slot and 1.5 games ahead of the Clippers.
The Lakers starters absolutely obliterated San Antonio. Metta did his thing with 5-8 shooting beyond the arc and 26 points, Ramon Sessions may be been nursing a sore shoulder and only produced 10 points with five assists, but Tony Parker sputtered to a bad night (four points on 2-12 shooting). Pau Gasol added to the frontcourt dominance with a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double, and Pau occupied Tim Duncan (14 points, two rebounds) while Bynum snatched everything in sight against under-sized (DeJuan Blair) and over-matched (Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw) Spurs bigs. The Spurs shot better from three, dished out more assists, snatched more steals, committed less turnovers and swatted more blocks, but LA out-rebounded by an obscene margin of 60-33. Again, the Lakers starters absolutely obliterated San Antonio:
...Lakers starters tonight in 18 minutes: 120 offensive rating, 77 defensive rating (!!!), 95% defensive rebound rate. Un. Believeable.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 12, 2012
Manu Ginobili couldn't get himself going, and provided just nine points in 26 minutes to an offense that needed so much more, but he reached a special milestone with an otherwise meaningless layup in the fourth quarter. Ginobili broke the 10,000-point barrier and joined Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, David Robinson and George Gervin as the only other players in Spurs franchise history to exceed that threshold.
Still, the story of the night was Bynum, and the recap over at Silver Screen and Roll summed everything up nicely:
The Lakers' dominance on the defensive glass was something to behold. Granted, the Spurs aren't super aggressive when it comes to crashing the offensive boards. They came into the game ranked 24th in offensive-rebounding rate. Still, for the season they've recovered about 25 percent of their own misses, and tonight that figure dropped to 2 percent. Their first offensive board didn't happen until about midway through the third quarter. Between missed field goals and missed free throws, they had 46 opportunities to rebound the rock at the offensive end, and they managed to do so only once. I'm not exaggerating when I say this was a once-in-a-lifetime rebounding performance. It's possible none of us will ever see it happen again in an NBA contest.
To discuss Andrew Bynum's development with Lakers fans, head on over to Silver Screen and Roll. To talk about a really good team that just had a forgettable night with Spurs fans, check out Pounding the Rock.
For all of Wednesday's NBA box scores, check out SI.com's NBA scoreboard.