Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/1/12
EL SEGUNDO, CA -- Since the Lakers were embarrassingly swept out of last season's NBA Playoffs by eventual champion Dallas in the second round, nothing has been easy for the 16-time NBA Champions. Following a work stoppage, the negated trade with New Orleans (at the time owned by the league and run by David Stern) for All Star point guard Chris Paulwho ended up down the hall in the Clippers' locker roomset in motion five month of trials and tribulations for new coach Mike Brown and his players. Even after Sunday's routine 103-88 win over Denvera game in which the Lakers never trailedMonday brought more challenges instead of a little relief. L.A. learned that a key playerreserve big man Jordan Hillwill have a representative in a Houston courtroom Tuesday to answer felony charges that on February 29 Hill allegedly choked a woman that he was dating at the time. Then, in perhaps a bit of referee-baiting, Denver coach George Karl praised Laker center Andrew Bynum for his triple-double in Game Oneincluding an NBA playoff record-tying 10 blocks--then told a Denver newspaper that the Lakers got away with "about 30" illegal defenses during the win. Laker coach Mike Brown said Karl was trying the get into the refs' heads, much like his predecessor used to do. "Phil (Jackson's) done it..he has 11(championships)," Brown said lightheartedly after Monday's practice. "So it has to work to a certain extent. (Karl) is a veteran coach and he's got to work the officials in a lot of different ways. I applaud him for doing it." Laker guard Kobe Bryant scored 31 in the playoff opener and said that Karl can say anything he wants, but if Bynum continues to play like he did on Sunday, there's no stopping him or the Lakers. "(Andrew's) just continues to get better; continues to evolve as a player," said Bryant, "and he's obviously progressed tremendously defensively since the beginning. He's figuring out what to do from matchup to matchup, and improving every game. We just need him to continue to do that." Bynum's triple-double13 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blockswas the first of his career, and the number of blocks tied the NBA post-season record previously held by Hall of Fame Hakeem Olajuwon. Despite some well-publicized on and off-court incidents in the last year, the 24-year old All Star seems to be maturing into a great center. "I'm just going out playing my game," Bynum said at the Lakers' practice facility. "I'm taking what I learn here and using it (in the games). (Sunday) I was just challenging shots. They were trying to lay the ball up to the rim, and I was in the right spot. Our (defensive) scheme is to push people toward the baseline, so I knew every time where I needed to be." Bynum went on to say that it was nice to take Game One, but that the Lakers still have a lot of work to do if they want to win championship number 17, which would tie them with Boston for the most NBA titles all-time. "(During practice Monday), we were working on our (defense)" said Bynum. "Making sure we'd be doing the right things (in Game Two). I think they're going to come out trying to run the ball more; try to turn it into a track meet. "Offensively we worked on a couple of things we need to improve on. We need a more balanced attack, but for the most part we're doing what we have to do." One of the big reasons for Laker dominance Sunday was the play of Hill, who notched another double-double, collecting 10 points and 10 rebounds. Now, however, he has the threat of a ten-year prison sentence hanging over his head for the alleged assault. "I just want to apologize to the fans, to the Laker organization and to everyone," said Hill, acquired from Houston in the Derek Fisher trade. "I can't speak on it right now; I'm going to let my attorney and agents take care of that." Despite the serious allegations, he says that the legal troubles won't affect his play. "Not all all," said Hill. "I'm just trying to go out there and have fun, and help my team get to the Finals, hopefully. "I'm not concerned. I just want to get to the Finals and bring a ring home." Something easier said than done. Especially if you're the Lakers.
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