NBA Playoffs 2012: Los Angeles Lakers Must Feature Andrew Bynum in Game 4

William Van NollFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04:  Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after his dunk against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on April 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 113-108.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Andrew Bynum admitted to not fully being there to start Friday's Game 3 versus the Denver Nuggets. But once he arrived and caught fire, the Los Angeles Lakers inexcusably failed to capitalize.

"I got there a little late...So, I probably didn't have as much time as I needed," said Bynum (via ESPN)— who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks—of his Game 3 preparation.

"I took myself out (of it)," he continued. "I was just not, I guess I don't know, maybe just not ready to play."

His zero-point, 0-for-3 first half validated this, but once Big Drew settled in and started rolling, he simply could not be stopped.

Establishing post position early and with authority, Bynum went 5-of-7, including two three-point plays, for 12 points in the third quarter to help bring the Lakers within four after trailing by 24 early in the first half.

JaVale McGee—the Nuggets 7'1'' March 15 acquisition who was brought to Denver specifically to play defense against the Lakers' beast—didn't stand a chance.

Andrew Bynum easily took over the game with dominant play down low. He was tossing bodies, breaking noses, hitting jumpers and taking over. Then, to start the fourth quarter, for reasons far from logic, the looks stopped.

Steve Blake couldn't make a post-entry pass to save his life.

Matt Barnes started shooting three-pointers.

Kobe Bryant played one-on-one basketball with the shot clock below six.

Pau Gasol shot 16-footers.

The Nuggets as a team were in foul trouble in the fourth quarter, the Lakers were in the bonus. Andrew Bynum hadn't missed a free throw, yet the offense couldn't give him open looks towards the end of the game.

Both Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant should have recognized the obvious advantage and reinforced order.

The recipe for success against this Denver team still is and will continue to be: feed the post and slow down the tempo. Instead, the Lakers settled for long jumpers and played right into the Nuggets fast break, ultimately dooming Los Angeles in their 99-84 loss Friday. 

Yes, he may have showed "up late," but once he arrived, Andrew Bynum was by far the best player on the Pepsi Center floor. The Lakers have hopefully learned their lesson and make it a point to feature Big Drew in Game 4.