Bynum '100 percent' ready to play
BOSTON -- After having his right knee drained of fluid for the second time this postseason, Lakers center Andrew Bynum says he'll be ready to go for Sunday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Celtics.
"One-hundred percent sure I'm playing," Bynum said when asked after Saturday's practice about his status.
Phil Jackson confirmed Sunday that Bynum would be available for the game. Asked what he was expected to get from the center, Jackson said he "couldn't guess." But he had an ideal in mind.
"I said yesterday we'd love him to play 24 minutes. You know, play half the game. If he played more, we'd do it."
Jackson said elements most problematic for Bynum while playing with a torn meniscus will be getting back on transition and getting toward the ball on defense without reaching. Bynum played 12 minutes of Thursday's Game 4, which Boston won 96-89 to even the series 2-2, and felt he was a "liability" during the game. His coach agreed. "He knew it and we knew it," Jackson said. "As a team, we saw what was happening and we just wanted to give a couple minutes of break for our team. Right away we could tell. He got banged on the second or third play on the court."
Bynum had fluid drained from his right knee after the game. He was encouraged the swelling had not returned. He had fluid drained from the same knee before the series and the swelling reappeared.
He knows it will happen again.
"It's going to come back after Game 5, for sure," Bynum said. "It's guaranteed. But as long as I'm able to be out there and be effective, that's what counts."
Bynum has a torn meniscus and bone bruise in his knee. Surgery is scheduled for July with an expected rehabilitation period of 2-5 five weeks, he said.
Meanwhile, he plays on.
"He's made the ultimate sacrifice and tried to pay the ultimate price," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said. "As a professional basketball player, your commodity is your body. So for him to take the steps that he's taking to try and help us win, I think that says a lot about who he is and what his purpose is with our team."
An MRI on Friday revealed no further damage to the knee. Bynum has remained insistent on not missing any games. In particular, Game 5 struck him as too important.
"I know this game is the biggest game, because it could change the whole series either way," Bynum said.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson expressed uncertainty before Game 4 about the availability of Bynum, who was limited to less than two minutes of playing time during the game's second half and 12 minutes in all. Bynum had hoped to avoid another draining of the knee but had no choice.
"It was either not play or do the draining," he said. "There was too much swelling in it. The draining really helped. It hasn't come back yet. There will be more treatment [Saturday night], just to make sure I'll be ready for Sunday."
How many minutes Bynum will play Sunday depends on how his knee responds.
"The pain is the thing that's easy for me to to play with. It's just pain. The swelling, the other muscles around it get tired and they just don't fire. That was really the issue -- being able to hold your position. I think [Kevin Garnett] ran into me and my knee buckled. You just have to be aware of those things."
Bynum, 22, was 17 when the Lakers made him the youngest player ever drafted in the first round. His scoring average has increased in each of his five seasons, to 15.0 this season along with 8.3 rebounds.
Without him, the Lakers only consistently effective inside player is 7-foot Pau Gasol.
"He's been a factor when he's been out there," Gasol said. "It also helps me to have him there just because of his presence and his length, his size, just rebounding, defending. Those two things are keys at this point because they've been the difference in the series."
Andy Kamenetzky is co-author the Land O' Lakers blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.