Bynum's knee a growing concern
BOSTON -- Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who played only 12 minutes in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday because of his injured knee, underwent an MRI and had fluid drained on Friday.
Before the procedures, Bynum said he would be "be ready to go" when the Lakers play the Celtics in Game 5 on Sunday.
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"I got two days, I'll get some treatment, pump a little bit of the swelling out and try to attack on Sunday," Bynum said after finishing with only two points and three rebounds, and playing only two minutes in the second half.
The MRI revealed no new damage to his right knee, and the Lakers said that he had fluid drained just as he did before the Finals began.
The question now becomes whether Bynum will be able to be effective in what has become a best-of-three series to determine the championship.
After Game 3, Bynum said he was "questionable" after twice tweaking his torn right meniscus. In Game 4, Bynum did not start the second half, remaining in the locker room to do quad-activation exercises with the Lakers' training staff. He came in for Lamar Odom with 4:03 remaining in the third quarter but exited for good with 2:13 left in the quarter, barely able to make it up and down the floor.
"It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He tried a couple minutes, but it just wasn't there for him. We're glad we have a couple days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again."
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Jackson said he would relegate Bynum to the bench only if the Celtics were hurting the Lakers with fastbreak buckets.
"If he can't get back in defense transition-wise, and that's one of the things they're trying to attack with our first unit obviously when Andrew is out there is try and run, then obviously he's going to hurt the team," Jackson said. "But even with him dragging the leg around a little bit, he still helped us in situations last night getting rebounds, that I thought a lot of our other guys -- got the ball knocked out of their hands, fumbled the ball, went out of bounds off of them. Andrew still has the length and the strength to capture rebounds that we need. So we'll use him if he's available and able, but we're certainly not going to put him in a situation that's either going to hurt himself or the team."
Jackson suggested that he could go deep into his bench, using reserve big men Josh Powell and D.J. Mbenga, although he was more assured of Powell's preparedness than Mbenga's.
"If his head is into it [Mbenga could play]," Jackson said. "Sometimes a guy hasn't played in a while and you'll look in there and it may be kind of vacant in there, a wake-up type of thing. But I do check every game or so to see if these guys are still on beam. D.J. has lost a little bit in the process of not playing, and he needs that. But Josh Powell is ready to play."
Without Bynum's 7-foot, 289-pound body out there, the Celtics outrebounded the Lakers by seven and outscored them 54-34 in the paint in Game 4.
"I would have loved to have been able to have been out there. I definitely could have helped," Bynum said. "I think they got layups, they really attacked the basket. That's what we missed."
Bynum said the condition of his knee is the worst it's been since he suffered a slight tear to his meniscus on April 30 in Game 6 of the Lakers' first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"It's just too much swelling, it's like really big, it's as big as a basketball," Bynum said. "It's tough, I couldn't really go. I didn't have any strength in the leg. ... The quad didn't fire at all, so when you try to hold the block, it's pretty tough.
"The pain is about the same, it's not that. It's just the inability of my muscles to fire that just because of the swelling that's in there. ...That's the part that stinks. You can't really jump, I'm like two steps slow, so I'm kind of like a liability out there."
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The Lakers did not have practice Friday, but Bynum said he would have the knee re-examined by the specialist he's been seeing for several years, Dr. David Altchek, who Bynum has requested come to Boston from his office in New York.
It was apparent from the start of Game 4 that Bynum did not have the health he had in the series' first three games. The Lakers ran an inbounds play under the basket that freed up Bynum for a point-blank layup attempt that Kevin Garnett easily blocked from behind just 53 seconds into the game.
"Ron [Artest] dropped the ball off to me and I don't even think I jumped," Bynum said. "I tried to jump, but it didn't happen."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.