INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Not long ago, there was talk of Andrew Bynum not being able to cut it again in the NBA. People wondered how long his surgically repaired knees he would hold up, how many minutes he could possibly play.
Bynum himself admitted he thought about it, too.
Well, after Saturday’s win over the Chicago Bulls, all appears dandy. That says something, considering the 7-footer was on the floor for a season-high 30 minutes, scoring a season-high 20 points (on 8-of-14 shooting) and collecting a season-high 10 rebounds with a season-high five blocked shots.
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“From what our trainers said he was fine after the game,” coach Mike Brown said from the team’s practice court Monday.
Bynum clearly made an impact. As good as he was offensively, he was even better on defense. In one sequence, he blocked two shots in a row from Bulls center Joakim Noah. After that, Noah was never the same, finishing 2-of-10 from the floor.
Even Bulls forward Carlos Boozer missed a point blank layup to tie it in the final seconds. You can’t help but think Bynum’s presence near the rim all night may have had something to do with it.
Bynum’s dedication to get better, and healthier, certainly plays a role in all that. He even puts in extra work on off days to help the process.
“He’s been making progress,” Brown said. “Our medical team has done a great job, he’s done a great job, of stuff that’s needed to be done. (Sunday) we had a day off, and he was in here at 9:30 in the morning. That’s how he’s been. Before the season started, he was doing that every day. That type of dedication from him, from our medical staff, led George Sibel … it’s been good.”
After missing all of last season in Philadelphia, Bynum is averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, playing in 13 of the Cavs’ first 17 games this year. He has started the last eight, and his performance Saturday came on the second night of a back-to-back against one of the NBA’s more physical teams.
“It’s actually good to jump and see that it wasn’t too bad on the landing,” Bynum said Saturday. “I think, more so than anything, it’s about getting more and more minutes and getting out on the floor and getting my touch back.”
The Cavs (5-12) snapped a five-game losing streak and looked more comfortable playing alongside Bynum than at any other time.
“You saw how we can play off Bynum if we need to,” Brown said. “He makes everybody better because of the attention he commands.”
Bynum, 26, is posting career averages of 11.6 points on 56 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds. He compiled career-bests of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game under Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers two seasons ago.