From Comcast SportsNetSAN ANTONIO (AP) -- While Kobe Bryant again sat out, Andrew Bynum cleaned up.Pulling down the first 30-rebound game in the NBA in more than two years, Bynum made Bryant's third missed game in a row an afterthought by the time the Los Angeles Lakers finished off the San Antonio Spurs 98-84 on Wednesday night.The 7-footer became the first player with 30 rebounds in a game since Minnesota's Kevin Love corralled 31 against the New York Knicks in 2010. Bynum also had 16 points while joining Love as the only two players in the last 12 years to hit the 30-rebound mark."It's great to have 30 boards, but my shots not working and I'm little upset about that," said Bynum, who was 7 of 20 from the field. "For me, I'll remember shooting poorly."That's not what anyone else will recall.Metta World Peace scored a second-high 26 points, and Pau Gasol added 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers improved to 2-1 without Bryant, who is still letting his sore left shin heal. Lakers coach Mike Brown said there is still no timetable for when the NBA's leading scorer might return, but added that Bryant isn't nagging him to play.Brown said Bryant, who is averaging 28.1 points, wants to be cautious and not exacerbate the injury that halted his streak of consecutive starts at 138 last week. And two nights after barely squeaking past lowly New Orleans, the Lakers played far livelier this time without their superstar.The previous single-game mark for rebounds in the NBA this season was 25, set twice by Orlando's Dwight Howard and Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova. Bynum had already matched that by the end of the third quarter."They had some air balls that fell right to me," Bynum said. "So I just had my hands ready."It was that kind of night for the Spurs, who've now followed an 11-game winning streak by losing two in a row for the first time since January. Falling in Utah on Monday night was hardly shocking: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili didn't even make the trip that night in coach Gregg Popovich's pursuit to keep his stars fresh as possible for the playoffs.But the Big Three were back for the Lakers, and few saw this coming -- especially with Bryant sidelined in a suit.Parker and Ginobili might as well have taken another night off. Parker scored four on 2 of 12 shooting and Ginobili scored 9. Duncan had 14 points and just two rebounds.Danny Green led the Spurs with 22 points."They played great and beat us to death," Popovich said. "There's nothing else you can say about it."San Antonio trailed by as much as 26 and grabbed just one offensive rebound.Los Angeles has seven games left and are in third place in the West, 4 games behind the Spurs for second place. San Antonio remained just a game out of first despite the loss since Oklahoma City also lost Wednesday night.Bynum tapped missed shots to himself with ease over the undersized Spurs frontcourt, and nearly single-handedly outrebounded the entire Spurs lineup combined. San Antonio finished with 32 rebounds. It's the second time the Spurs have been beaten up on the boards: One of Howard's 25-rebound nights was also against San Antonio."He got a lot of position rebounds tonight," Duncan said. "He obviously is a big body and he had eight offensive rebounds, which really hurt us. All in all, we just did not play well."Bynum is the fifth Lakers player to grab 30 rebounds in a game, and the first since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1978."One of the ways we can control the tempo is by trying to rebound," Brown said. "And Drew took it upon himself. Obviously, the 30 rebounds is amazing."NOTES:Spurs G Gary Neal (gastroenteritis) did not play. ... Ginobili surpassed 10,000 career points, joining Duncan, Parker, David Robinson and George Gervin as the only other players in Spurs history to reach the milestone.
Healthy in October for the first time in three seasons, Zach LaVine entered training camp as the $78 million man looking to justify one of the summer’s largest deals that many criticized.
And just a few days into camp, the spotlight homed in on him further when the Bulls lost Lauri Markkanen to an elbow injury.
LaVine responded to both challenges, putting together a preseason performance that not even the most optimistic expectations could have included.
In just 22.3 minutes he averaged 17.8 points on 52 percent shooting, made 44 percent of his triples and got to the free throw line a team best 4.8 times per game. In short, he looked much more like the potential franchise-building piece the Bulls believed they were acquiring 19 months ago.
“I’m my hardest critic, so there’s nothing on the outside that I haven’t told myself of where I want to be at. You want to tell the doubters on the outside I told you so, but it’s mostly coming from a place where I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for.’’
The fifth-year shooting guard was fluid, attacked in a variety of ways and looked like part of the offense, something that at times was non-existent during last year’s injury-riddled comeback season. Taking shots in rhythm, attacking the rim instead of settling for contested jumpers, running the floor. LaVine looked a lot like the player who shot 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep before the ACL injury in 2017.
“I think I found a good rhythm and then just keep that going into the regular season. I think last year still, I was trying to catch my rhythm with the games I played,” LaVine said Monday at the Advocate Center. “I’d play two good games and two bad games. I felt like that up and down was a little bit with the consistency of not playing. Now that I’m back fully I think that’s where I should be.”
The offensive uptick is a sight for sore eyes, especially with Markkanen on the mend. But where LaVine can quiet his harshest critics – including himself – is on the defensive end.
It’s just a five-game sample size, but LaVine’s individual defensive rating of 97.3 was better than the team’s overall 100.2 rating. A year ago, LaVine’s defensive rating was 113.9, the worst on the team, and worse than the team’s overall 110.4 mark. They’re baby steps, but steps nonetheless for a player who knows what the book says about him on that end of the floor.
“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” he said. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’
The preseason is one hurdle cleared, but they get much taller and difficult to get over when Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers come around. No matter who starts in the frontcourt – Fred Hoiberg isn’t ready to announce Bobby Portis and Wendell Carter Jr. yet – or if the Bulls get good Jabari Parker instead of preseason Jabari Parker, all eyes will be on LaVine.
It’s the contract. It’s being the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butle trade. It’s how well he played before the injury and how dominant he looked in the preseason. He’s off to a good start and knows now is this time to build on it.
“There are a lot of things you want to reach and get better at every year, and I put a lot of work into this offseason,” he said. “I have a lot of things to prove and want to get better at, and yeah, I feel like it’s just motivation for yourself when you want to accomplish things.’’
Who wants it more?
We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday.
Week 9 is “Bubble Week” for many teams fighting to stay on the right side of the postseason bubble. Who moves on? Whose bubble will burst? Will Wauconda advance to the playoffs after finishing 2-7 last year? Or will Grant end their season on a winning note? Schaumburg and Fremd both stand at 4-4. The winner goes to the postseason. The winner stays home for November. Zion-Benton hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003. A win over Libertyville gets them there. But for the Wildcats, this ‘is’ their playoff game. Who wins in the North Suburban conference? We’ll send our cameras to one of the following:
Grant at Wauconda, 7:15 p.m.
Schaumburg at Fremd, 7:30 p.m.
Libertyville at Zion-Benton, 7:30 p.m.
— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word!
We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.