Bynum says knee not getting worse
LOS ANGELES -- With a maximum of six games left in their season, there's little hope of Andrew Bynum's injured right knee improving. The hope is it doesn't get worse.
Seen in that context, in the wake of a 10-point, six-rebound effort over 28 minutes in the Lakers' 102-89 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, Bynum's now daily status update contained good news Friday.
"It feels all right. It's not any worse," Bynum said, speaking to reporters in tan house slippers rather than high tops after spending the morning receiving treatment while his teammates practiced on the Staples Center floor. "It's going to be what it is, as long as we keep the swelling down to a minimum, which we're doing."
Bynum suffered a torn meniscus April 30 in Game 6 of the Lakers' first-round matchup with Oklahoma City. After missing much of the last two seasons, including the matchup between the Lakers and Celtics in 2008, Bynum decided to put off surgery until the offseason out of concern he might not have returned in time to contribute.
"With me being so big, seven feet with a lot of weight on the knees, you never know how long the rehab's going to take," he said. "If it would have went well and I would have been able to play in three weeks, it would have benefited probably. But there's no telling. It could have been three to seven weeks, and if it's seven you miss the whole [playoffs]."
Instead, Bynum contributed in Thursday's win, despite limitations. In some ways, his physical presence is more important than statistical output. "He's one of the biggest, longest people in the NBA," said forward Luke Walton. "You get him and Pau Gasol controlling that paint and crashing the offensive glass and crashing the defensive glass, it makes it really tough for the other team to score."
Boston center Kendrick Perkins thought Bynum was effective but didn't attribute the Celtics' loss to his presence.
"To be honest, I think the way that game went last night, if they wouldn't have had Bynum they still would have won that game. So many other guys played well," he said. "I think it hurt us more when they go small with Lamar Odom, because he's really like a point-forward. He dribbles the ball and stretches you out, and Gasol can work the inside. Either way [with Bynum on the floor or not] is difficult for us."
Bynum indicated he would be more active in Saturday's practice ahead of Sunday's Game 2 but doubts he'll participate fully.
Leading up to the Finals, mum was the word out of Lakers players' mouths about the chance of winning a championship against the Boston Celtics holding any extra special meaning because of the revenge factor from L.A.'s loss in 2008.
"We're pissed off that they took the opportunity for us to have another championship," Bynum said after Game 1. "They robbed us of that, so we just want to return the favor."
Bynum, playing only three days after getting his right knee drained Monday, was the first Lakers player to declare during the conference finals that his team "wants Boston" when the Celtics had a 2-0 series lead on the Orlando Magic.
After clinching the Western Conference title last Saturday, Kobe Bryant said he "didn't care" if the Lakers faced Boston or played the Magic in the Finals for the second-consecutive year.
Benches not quite as critical
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The bench has been a point of concern for the Lakers throughout the postseason, particularly in their last series against the Suns. In Game 1, the Lakers received solid performances from Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, both of whom factored into a late push at the end of the first quarter turning a tie score into a five-point lead for the Lakers.
Going forward, Walton anticipates shorter minutes for both teams' benches, save foul trouble and periodic moments of rest for starters.
"With these two teams, the starting fives are so good that maybe the bench minutes and bench roles aren't as big," he said. "Their main core and our main core are all going to be playing between 30- and 40-something minutes a game, so it's really more the team vs. their team."
It doesn't, however, minimize the need for reserves to play well.
"You know Kobe is going to do what Kobe does, you know Paul Pierce is going to make plays down the stretch, you know Ray Allen's going to hit 3s," Walton said. "A lot of times when you have two great teams, it's the little plays that separate a game. A hustle play here, an offensive rebound, a charge. Something like that."
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In Game 1, the teams shot 67 free throws, nearly 14 more than their combined averages through the first three rounds of the postseason.
"I thought the onset of the game created kind of a warning level for the referees, who then called the game very close and very tight," coach Phil Jackson said. "Because of the contact in the early part of the game, I think that was the reason [a high number of fouls] might have been called."
Jackson dismissed the notion his team was working actively to try and make the game overly physical.
"There's a difference between aggressive and being physical," he said. "Maybe [basketball] is a contact sport. But this is not about power. This is a game about finesse and activity, and the activity is what creates the aggressiveness. ... We're not talking to guys about beating each other up and that type of stuff."
Fisher has perspective
In 2007, Derek Fisher's world was rocked by his daughter Tatum being diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. With the situation since under control, Fisher was asked if everything he has dealt with off the court has changed his perspective on his career.
"I think the biggest thing that jumps out at me is the ability to handle adversity and a loss and a bad game or whatever you consider to be negative in sports," Fisher said. "When there's a certain peace that you have at home, you're able to kind of let those things go and come back and be ready to fight again. That's what I've noticed for me is the biggest thing.
"I used to carry a loss or a bad game for way too long. Now, when I get home and the kids are asleep, but the next morning when I see them, they don't know how many points we won by or lost by, who did what or what my guy did that I was guarding. None of that really matters. It really helps me to really take a breath. Remember this is still basketball. It's still very important. It's important to us. It's important to our fans. But it's not everything.
"I'm still focused and I'm intense, but I'm able to enjoy and smile and laugh a little more."
Brian Kamenetzky co-authors the Land O' Lakers blog with his brother, Andrew Kamenetzky, who contributed to this report. ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin also contributed to this report.