- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Lakers have won 10 out of their last 12 games in the playoffs since Kobe Bryant got his bothersome right knee drained prior to Game 5 of Los Angeles' first-round series with Oklahoma City. Now the Lakers hope that a similar procedure done to Andrew Bynum will help them win four out of seven games in the NBA Finals to capture the championship against the Boston Celtics.
The 22-year-old Lakers center had his right knee drained (or "aspirated" in medical terms) Monday morning.
Bynum suffered a slight tear of the meniscus of his right knee in Game 6 against the Thunder and has been limited in the playoffs, averaging 9.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 24.2 minutes per game while recovering from a late-season strain to his left Achilles and navigating the pain and swelling that accompanied the right knee injury.
"It was just getting worse," Bynum said after the Lakers film session in preparation for the Celtics on Monday. "The swelling wasn't leaving so we had to do it ... I was doing the treatment, but [the swelling] wasn't going anywhere like in the previous three rounds so I just had to drain it."
Bynum said he could not feel any immediate benefit from the drain because there was still medicine in the knee numbing the pain, but said he would find out if the procedure had a positive impact Wednesday, when he plans to return to practice.
"It supposedly will make you feel more healthy, so that I'll find out come practice day," Bynum said. "I think that practice is going to be what kind of determines that for me, especially because I'll be running on it and cutting and it will be a full, hard day."
The procedure did wonders for Bryant, who described the draining as having "the nasty stuff sucked out of my knee." Bryant averaged 24 points on 38.4 percent shooting in the first four games against the Thunder before having his knee drained and has been on a tear ever since, averaging 31.3 points on 51.5 percent shooting in his last 12 games.
Bynum had 17 points and 14 rebounds and four blocks against the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of the conference semifinals shortly after sustaining the right knee injury, but has been inconsistent ever since then. After Bynum finished with just two points and two rebounds in Game 3 of the conference finals against Phoenix, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he was considering keeping Bynum out of the lineup to rest his knee. Bynum responded with 12 points and eight rebounds in Game 4.
"I expect that he's going to come out and give us some really good minutes," Jackson said Monday. "It may not be heavy minutes, but I think he'll give us some good minutes. He's got some effective things that he's done against the Celtics over the course of the year."
Bynum was sidelined with a dislocated knee cap in his left knee in 2008 when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals in six games. He was not even able to attend all of the games while he received treatment on his knee from a specialist in New York.
Boston has added the 6-foot-11, 230-pound Rasheed Wallace and has started to utilize the 6-9, 289-pound Glen Davis in a frontline that already included the 6-11, 253-pound Kevin Garnett and 6-10, 280-pound Kendrick Perkins two years ago.
Any contributions that Bynum's 7-foot, 285-pound body can add will be welcome for the Lakers.
"They're going to need me doing better than I am, that's for sure," Bynum said. "Going into it, I'm aware of that. We're just studying, looking at film, watching at how they're defending the post, watching our previous two games. I was effective in both of those games, so I'm going to need to play at that level and higher for us to be better."
Bynum averaged 16.5 points and 10 rebounds on 50 percent shooting in two regular season meetings against Boston this season that the Lakers split, winning by one point in Boston on Jan. 31 and then losing by one point in L.A. on Feb. 18 (with Bryant out with a sprained left ankle).
"I'm out there for whatever they ask me to do, any amount of minutes," Bynum said. "You don't come this far just to say, 'OK, I can't go anymore.'"
Even though Bynum was unable to play in 2008, he recognizes the revenge factor that this series presents to the Lakers.
"It's a great opportunity for us to get one back," Bynum said. "You never want to let that slip. It's an opportunity for us to say, 'We can beat these guys.' Nobody can come up to us and say, 'You guys can never beat Boston, you went to the Finals three times, they beat you twice.' We don't want to hear any of that. That's a motivating factor for us."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.