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KEVIN SULLIVAN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
The Lakers Kobe Bryant dives for a loose ball in front of the Nuggets' Kenneth Faried during the first half of their 2012 first round playoff game Sunday at Staples Center.
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Bynum, defense propel Lakers to Game 1 win

Bynum, defense propel Lakers to Game 1 win

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

LOS ANGELES – In recent Lakers playoff history, the team could count on winning some playoff games almost strictly on Kobe Bryant's shooting.

The Lakers now know they can win just by playing the defense that has always been first-year Lakers coach Mike Brown's calling card.

In the Lakers' first playoff game at 13-year-old Staples Center without Phil Jackson as their coach, they all piled on Andrew Bynum's shoulders and easily took Game 1, 103-88, from a Denver Nuggets team that shot just 35.6 percent from the field.

The Lakers never trailed with Bynum being what Brown called "the difference" – blocking 10 shots in his first playoff appearance since becoming an NBA All-Star this season. That topped the Lakers' playoff record of nine held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar since 1977 and matched the NBA playoff record held by Mark Eaton and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Afterward, Bynum said: "Defense is always about heart."

The effort Sunday was an indication these Lakers might have more of that than Jackson's last-stand team, which lost Game 1 at home in both its playoff series.

"We're more focused this year than we were last year," Bynum said.

Bynum added 10 points and 13 rebounds to post the Lakers' first playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson's in the 1991 NBA Finals.

Bynum, 24, had never had a triple-double in his seven-year NBA career, and it was only the second of the NBA's 19 triple-doubles this season to be accomplished including blocks.

Pau Gasol's passing was as helpful as the Lakers imagined against a Denver defense overloading wherever the ball stopped, and Gasol finished with eight assists, eight rebounds and 13 points. Bryant put on a fourth-quarter surge to finish with 31 points, but he shot just 11 of 24 from the field.


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