Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/4/12
LOS ANGELES -- Most nights, the Lakers only have to concern themselves with avoiding one loss. Tuesday night, losing twice became a real possibility. They avoided an on-court defeat after blowing a 12-point fourth quarter lead, hanging on to beat New Jersey 91-87 at STAPLES Center. Kobe Bryant hit the game-clinching three-pointer with ten seconds left in the game. Whether they've lost Andrew Bynum emotionally is still up in the air. Repeatedly showing a lack of maturity that apparently started when he violently knocked Dallas' J.J. Berea to the floor in a playoff game last season, the Laker center was reportedly fined an undisclosed sum for "numerous infractions" this season. The story was first reported by a national website. Bynum, who missed the four games this season while suspended for the Berea hammering, sat out Tuesday night after spraining his left ankle in the first quarter of a win Sunday over Golden State. It was the first time he's sat out a game he was eligible to play in this year, but will it be his last? The Laker organization refused to confirm or deny the disciplining of Bynum, who showed up about an hour before game time and declined to address the issue with reporters. Coach Mike Brown and GM Mitch Kupchak both said that anything that might have happened concerning Bynum "is an internal matter and we dealt with it internally." Numerous players asked to comment chose to remain silent about Bynum. This certainly isn't the first time in the past year that the 24-year old has made eyes roll. After pummeling Berea, Bynum was ejected and pulled off his jersey as he was leaving the court. That prompted a five-game suspension and fine, later reduced to four games. In Houston last month, Bynum was once again ejected and once again acted foolishly, shaking hands with Rockets' fans on his way to the locker room. And there have been a few reported incidents of Bynum flaunting the team rule prohibiting loud music in the locker room before or after games. Bynum's teammates and Laker management have to be wondering what has led the former New Jersey high schooler and tenth pick in the 2005 NBA draft down this particular road again. One reason may be all the talk of his being traded to Orlando as part of a package for mega-star center Dwight Howard. On the day he was named to his first All Star team, Bynum expressed joy at his selection, but then immediately began to look at the negatives. "I know it's going to be ridiculous when I get there," Bynum told reporters, "because with the game being in Orlando that's all I'm going to hear for three days. Questions about the trade. And I don't have answers anymore than you guys dothat's up to management. But it's not going to stop the media from bring it up in every interview session. And with media from all over the world being there, it's going to be rough to deal with." The trading deadline came and went on March 15, and Bynum was still wearing purple and gold. Just five nights later the incident in Houston took place, and all the bad decisions since then. Is it possible that after not being traded he was relieved, but also angry at the Lakers for even discussing moving him to another team, just like Lamar Odom at the start of training camp? And knowing that he's the favorite of Lakers' Vice President Jimmy Buss, heir to ownerfather Jerry Buss' Laker throne, could he be feeling a sense of entitlement, seeing how far he can push management, his coaches and his teammates, before one of those groups throws down the gauntlet? Brown wasn't ready to comment on any theories. "I can only say this: he's never disrespected me as a coach," Brown related. "We've just got to move ahead and hopefully he'll be able to play (Wednesday night) against the Clippers. If not (Wednesday), hopefully the next game." And maybe with a new attitude replacing the large chip on his shoulder. NOTES: The Lakers are now 34-20, 23-5 at home. They are the designated road team in their STAPLES Center matchup Wednesday against the Clippers, their last meeting of the regular season. The winner earns the tiebreaker should they end up with the same record at the end of the schedule, each team taking a victory so far this season. The Nets are now 19-36, with a better record on the road12-17--than at home, where they're 9-19.
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