Andrew Bynum looked good in his Pacers debut. Now can he do it again?

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Andrew Bynum looked good against the Celtics Tuesday. It was simple and clear. When basketball coaches say “you can’t teach height” Bynum showed exactly what they mean — matched up on Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass, Bynum just grabbed rebounds and made shots right over the top of them. He was too big, too physical.

Bynum shot 3-of-4 for 8 points and had 10 rebounds, showed some nifty passing out of the post, played solid defense and generally he looked like what the Pacers hoped they were getting. He was part of the reason the Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak 94-83 against an overmatched Celtics team.

The question for those anyone who has watched Bynum before is this: Can he keep it up?

Bynum has had great games before (including in Cleveland earlier this season, before they traded him), good stretches while he is focused, only to revert to his disinterested form.

He told the Indy Star he felt good in his 15 minutes spaced out over four quarters.

“I felt great. Couldn’t do anything wrong today,” the 7-foot, 285-pound strongman said.… “All the rebounds came my way and I just grabbed them.

“Looking forward to the next game.”

The Pacers still plan to go slow with Bynum, as they should.

Bynum was forced into action with Ian Mahinmi out with a bruised left hip. Bynum showed a skill level and a brute physicality that Mahinmi cannot match, he showed why when healthy and focused he is an upgrade for them in the paint behind Roy Hibbert.

Pacers fans should be hopeful, this is certainly more than Philadelphia got out of Bynum. And Bynum will be motivated — he is a guy more driven by money than many and he is playing for his next contract. Yes, playing on a winning team matters to him as well, but he took mental vacations when Phil Jackson was his coach, too.

In the end that’s really the question — what Bynum will the Pacers get night to night? One good game against an undersized front line is one good game. He needs to do it repeatedly, then into the playoffs. He’s capable, and if he does it the Pacers just got better.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.