I found it really hard to give the three votes today. For the first time in these playoffs, there wasn’t really a single dominant performance that demanded the three votes. The three winning teams won comfortably thanks to a balanced team effort with multiple contributors. I guess that’s why they won comfortably, eh?
3 votes – Andrew Bynum. Dominated the Hornets with his size and continued his great form. He has been the most consistent Laker in this series. He had 18 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks today, giving him averages for the series of 14.6, 10.0 and 1.8, on 54% shooting. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the more touches Bynum gets, the more dangerous the Lakers look. In the three games this series where he’s taken 10+ shots the Lakers have won. In the two games he took less than 10 shots? You got it, they lose. Which just has me wondering… is Kobe Bryant’s ankle injury some sort of blessing in disguise for this Lakers team?
2 votes – Luol Deng. Rose will get the numbers and the credit, but today’s game from Luol Deng is the perfect reminder why there’s only one Luol Deng in this league. 24 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 3-5 from three-point range, and plenty of stifling defense on Danny Granger. In other words, everything. They can’t count on that kind of offensive production every game from Deng (he’s shot the ball pretty poorly this series), but when he plays like this it makes the Bulls extremely difficult to beat – it means the opposition wings will have to focus on more than just stopping D-Rose. And if the Bulls are serious about a championship, those opposition wings will be Lebron and Wade or Allen and Pierce.
1 vote – Kobe Bryant. A statement game from Kobe this was. With so many questions surrounding his health, Kobe delivered an efficient and measured performance without the bravado that sometimes manifests itself when Kobe is trying to prove a point. On this night he let his actions speak louder than words. Notably this
Dunks are worth just two points, but on this night they meant so much more for the Lakers. The first dunk over Okafor was a huge momentum-shifter. It literally stunned the Hornets. The fact that Kobe served up one of his career-best dunks in his 15th season, on a dodgy ankle, in a must-win playoff game, also stunned me. It was enough to get the 1 vote on this day.