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The suspension of Andrew Bynum looked like it would be a problem because he has been playing so well as of late, but with veteran leadership with the likes of Derek Fisher (above) and company, the Lakers have kept on winning. Photo by Jeff Lewis
The Knicks A’mare Stoudemire probably wasn’t too happy when teammate Carmelo Anthony went from the locker room straight to the bus, leaving Stoudemire to take all of the heat from the Knicks recent struggles. Photo by Jeff Lewis Despite suspensions and injuries, Lakers continue winning; Melodrama boils over in New York, already; Tim Duncan and Rudy Gay injured. By Michael Brown, Sentinel Sports Writer With Bynum Suspension, Lakers Pick Each Other UpLakers big man Andrew Bynum’s elbow to the chest of Michael Beasley last Friday costs the center two games, and more than $300,000 in missed game checks.After the NBA handed down the suspension Sunday, the Lakers picked up where they left off prior to Bynum’s suspension defeating the Trailblazers, 84-80.Despite the win, the Lakers missed Bynum on the boards as they were out rebounded 45-35. But thanks to late-game heroics by Derek Fisher, L.A. pulled out the win.For longtime Lakers fans, Fisher’s play wasn’t a surprise. Kobe Bryant shot the ball better (9 for 20) against Portland than he has of late, but his erratic shooting isn’t as much of a problem when Fisher is there to pick up the slack. The Lakers shouldn’t miss Bynum during Tuesday’s game against Phoenix, who doesn’t pose a legitimate challenge in the paint.Unlike the majority of teams in the NBA, the Lakers have the luxury of plugging in a guy in the middle (Pau Gasol) who’s a better player than the guy he’s substituting for. Bringing Lamar Odom off the bench and starting him also doesn’t hurt.Odom finished the Portland game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals. Not bad for a sub, huh? At 50-20 overall, the Lakers have wrestled away sole possession of second-place in the Western Conference from the Dallas Mavericks, and control their own destiny.L.A. has been the hottest team since the all-star break and continues to build momentum toward the playoffs despite injuries and Bryant’s shooting slump. How many teams around the league can win when their primary scorer has an off night and they‘re missing a starting center? The answer: Not many.Melodrama in New YorkWell, the honeymoon was short-lived and the mania surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s trade to New York is all but a memory after the all-star had a dust-up with Coach Mike D’Antoni.During the Knicks’ loss Friday to Detroit, Anthony refused to join a huddle and failed to speak with the media after the game, instead, making a beeline for the team bus.Reportedly, Anthony isn’t happy with D’Antoni’s defensive schemes and wants to be featured more on offense in the fourth quarter.The situation wasn’t helped Monday night when the Knicks blew a 14-point lead at home against Boston en route to a 96-86 loss. The loss dropped the Knicks to 35-35 overall and 7-9 since Anthony joined the team.Fortunately for New York, they aren’t in danger of missing the playoffs due to the ineptitude of the east. The Indiana Pacers are below .500 and are the east eight-seed. So simply making the playoffs isn’t much of an accomplishment.Unfortunately, this year’s Knicks are what they are. Trading for Anthony gutted a great deal of the team. Role players such as Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler were traded away, allowing sub par players more time on the floor.The Knicks have lost of six of seven and look like a team without a true identity. I’m still in favor of the trade for Anthony because I think he’s a top-five talent. You usually can’t pass on those guys.But the Knicks had to have understood that Anthony comes with baggage. His leadership skills have never been exemplary, and he and A’mare Stoudemire give the Knicks a viable one-two punch on offense, but double zeros on defense and rebounding.This experiment can still work, depending on what New York adds during the off season. And by “work,” I mean putting a team on the floor that can win 50 games and maybe a round in the playoffs.The Anthony trade was great from a buzz, New York-hype standpoint. But as far as being a championship move, I don’t think so. When a team’s primary players and its coach have no interest in emphasizing defensive play, that’s a flawed team, folks.Imagine if Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce didn’t play defense or Kobe and Pau, would either the Celtics or Lakers be viable contenders?Injuries Could Affect Western Conference PlayoffsSan Antonio’s win over Golden State Monday wasn’t a big deal, but the video of center Tim Duncan writhing on the floor and clutching his left ankle likely sent shivers through Spurs fans.After the game, x-rays were negative and Spurs coach Greg Popovich said Duncan would likely miss “a while.” The injury occurred after Duncan landed awkwardly on another player’s foot.With a seven-game lead over the Lakers, the Spurs can afford to sit Duncan and rest on the cushion they’ve built up. Although Duncan’s not an all-star caliber player anymore he’s still instrumental for San Antonio.The news wasn’t as good for west eight-seed Memphis. Memphis announced Tuesday that Rudy Gay would have season-ending surgery on his left shoulder.
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