Are they for real? That's the question everyone has about the Lakers after their impressive 122-115 victory over the Suns on Christmas Day. At 18-10, the Lakers are just one game behind Phoenix and Dallas in the West, and two behind San Antonio. As Mark Heisler points out in the LA Times today, the Lakers rise is coinciding with the West's elite teams faltering a bit.
The real key to the Lakers success is Andrew Bynum, whose 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting with 12 rebounds has Los Angeles buzzing today. All of that hard work with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appears to be paying off, as Bynum suddenly looks like a top-flight NBA center.
"I don't know if he's up and coming," Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's there."
Still, it's way too early to start celebrating. The Lakers got off to a nice start last season before faltering in January. Andrew Bynum also looked good early last season, before he seemed to wear down and lose his edge. Anyone can in the NBA can have a few good games, but the real test for Bynum will be for him to sustain his high level of play throughout the entire season. Opposing coaches are going to scout Bynum and find ways to weaken him. How he adjusts and how he deals with this newfound attention will paramount to the Lakers hopes. Right now though, things are looking awfully good.