LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Not bad for a 19-year-old center pressed into
a starting role with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I had to pinch myself, but it was definitely really cool out
there to get a home win in front of our fans and have them cheering
for you," Bynum said. "That was the first time they were cheering
my name, so that felt pretty good."
Kobe Bryant, in the third game of his comeback from last
summer's knee surgery, had 17 points while taking only seven shots,
and added six assists as all the Lakers' starters scored in double
Bryant said that Bynum's hard work over the summer is paying
"It's just on me to be big brother, to be happy for him and
tell him how good of a job he's done," said the 28-year-old
Bryant, who also came into the league straight out of high school.
Lamar Odom chipped in with 15 points and nine rebounds. Luke
Walton had 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Smush
Parker scored 11 points -- including a clutch 3-pointer with 2:31
Bynum, who has been working under the tutelage of Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, had his career highs in points and rebounds, and he
also blocked three shots -- including swatting away a shot under the
basket by Mike James in the final minute.
Bynum said he has learned some valuable lessons from
"We've had a lot of sessions and we talk about different things
every day," Bynum said. "But the most important thing he was
telling me about was anchoring the defense and how much energy you
can create from blocking people's shots and making the other team
have to think about coming right down the lane for a layup, which
is what happened tonight."
Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said Bynum's schooling is obvious.
"Kareem's done a heck of a job with developing him," Casey
said. "Last year, he didn't even look like he belonged in the NBA.
This year, he looks like he belongs.
"He plays with a lot of confidence. He knows what he's doing
down there, and he's a load."
The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum demonstrated his jumping ability
when he went high off the floor to block Ricky Davis' shot on a
drive to the basket with four minutes left in the third quarter.
The crowd cheered wildly.
"I just believe in myself," Bynum said. "Day by day I'm
gaining more confidence out there and growing as a basketball
player just by getting the experience from playing all these
He played 29 minutes and finished 6-of-9 from the field and
8-of-10 from the line, including 3-of-4 in the final 47 seconds as
the Lakers held on.
Kevin Garnett led Minnesota with 26 points and nine rebounds,
and rookie Randy Foye had 12 points.
The Lakers opened a 72-52 lead with a 21-7 run over the first
7:22 of the third quarter. But the Timberwolves came back to pull
within 89-86 with 1:25 remaining before Odom hit a running jumper
and Bynum made his free throws to make it 94-86 with 42 seconds
Odom made the shot of the game, chasing down a deflected pass on
the right side near the halfcourt line, then whirling and throwing
up a desperation shot as the shot clock ticked down. It went in,
giving the Lakers an 83-67 lead with 9:46 remaining.
"I guess it was persistence," said Odom, who was 2-of-7 from
beyond the arc.
Bynum's three blocks matched a career high. His other
previous highs were 18 points and nine rebounds in a 114-106
victory over Phoenix on opening night. ... The Lakers have won nine
in a row at home, including six straight to close out last season.
.. Minnesota took last season's series against the Lakers 3-1, only
the second time in franchise history they had won the season series