Bynum plans to play despite knee

Updated: May 16, 2010, 11:13 AM ET
By Brian Kamenetzky | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lakers center Andrew Bynum sat out practice this week to rest his injured right knee, but the time off didn't do him much good.

After participating in Saturday afternoon's practice, Bynum said the knee isn't cooperating.

"It's just worse. A little worse, but I'm still able to play through it so I'm going to keep pushing ahead," he said.

Bynum said he will receive treatment and play when the Lakers open the Western Conference finals Monday night at Staples Center against the Phoenix Suns.

Bynum suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 30th, but has continued to play through the pain. The injury, he said, became worse "probably in Game 3, Game 4" of the Lakers' second round series against the Utah Jazz. Bynum was effective in the first two games, averaging 12.5 points and 12 rebounds, but didn't score in Game 3 and had six in Game 4 as the Lakers swept Utah.

Overall, Bynum averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in just under 25 minutes during the series.

Structurally, Bynum said the injury is no worse than before.

"[The problem is] keeping more swelling [out]. Not like the structure, but it's creating more swelling because I'm playing with an injured limb," he said. "It's just something that I'm just going to continue to treat, continue to try and pump the swelling out, milk it, and take it from there."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said it was important to get Bynum on the floor ahead of Monday's Game 1.

"Andrew, he's running with some limitations but he still looks good," Jackson said. "It's still good to see him out there. We're just monitoring it. We wanted to get him some activity close to the game, but not make it too close, so there's some recovery time."

Bynum said he would "back off" during Sunday's practice. He isn't sure how effective he'll be defensively against Phoenix's high speed, pick-and-roll heavy offensive system. On the other end, Phoenix has struggled to defend bigger players inside. But if Bynum's mobility is hampered, the Lakers may not be able to exploit any matchup advantages. In four regular season games against the Suns, Bynum averaged nearly 18 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

Kobe Bryant, himself receiving treatment for a wide variety of injuries including his knee and finger, also participated in practice for the first time this week.

"I feel fine," he said. "Feels good."

Rust isn't weighing heavily on Bryant's mind. Asked to pinpoint his biggest concern about a long layoff between games without playing much basketball, Bryant shrugged. "I don't have one. None at all."

Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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