Bynum leaves early with knee issue

Updated: June 16, 2010, 9:28 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- While the Boston Celtics await tests on starting center Kendrick Perkins' sprained ligaments in his right knee, the Los Angeles Lakers once again go into Thursday's Game 7 of the NBA Finals unsure if their injured big man, Andrew Bynum, will be able to play.

Bynum racked up two points, four rebounds and one block Tuesday in 16 minutes of playing time before requesting to be taken out of the game less than two minutes into the third quarter with the Lakers holding an 18-point lead.

"I just felt like I was hurting the team and we had a big lead [and there were] a couple of rebounds I couldn't get to," Bynum said. "I couldn't really pick my leg up, so, with the lead, the opportunity to rest and I felt a couple of little twinges, so I just asked off."

The 7-footer was accompanied by Los Angeles trainer Gary Vitti to the locker room, evaluated and returned to the bench midway through the third quarter, his night finished.

"He wasn't able to move very fluidly the second half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He had some tightness in the back of his leg. He just said, 'You've got to take me out, I can't run.' And it was obvious at that point that he couldn't. He had some swelling in the back of his leg, and we'll have to work on that and see if they can't ice it down and control that."

Bynum has been playing with a torn meniscus in his right knee that will require July surgery.

He said there wasn't any specific play that bothered him, although as early as 8:27 remaining in the first quarter it was apparent he was having trouble leaping when he allowed Ray Allen to grab an offensive rebound when Bynum clearly had position. A few possessions later Derek Fisher threw him a lob on the break that the 22-year-old couldn't corral.

Bynum is listed as questionable for Game 7, according to the team, but after playing in all 22 of the Lakers postseason games thus far, he made it clear that he expects to play Thursday.

"I'll get some more treatment and be back at it Thursday," Bynum said. "I have to gut it out Thursday and see what my options are again."

Bynum is averaging 9.2 points and 7.1 rebounds for the playoffs, but just 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in the last four games of the Finals.

As much as he might be able to take advantage of a Perkins-less Boston team Thursday, Bynum is rooting for his rival.

"It's unfortunate what happened to him," Bynum said. "I know where he's at right now. I wish him the best, I hope he's able to play."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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