Andrew Bynum suspended 2 games
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Bynum was suspended without pay for a flagrant foul 2 against Minnesota's Michael Beasley. He missed Sunday's 84-80 win against the Trail Blazers and will sit Tuesday's game against the Suns.
"I feel badly ... for the team, for the fans," said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson prior to the Lakers' game against Portland on Sunday night. "That's a subjective thing. I don't know how they judge it. Beasley played [Sunday], it's not like he missed a game because of it. I understand the reasoning behind it, but the penalties, I don't understand [those] yet."
The foul came in the fourth quarter of the Lakers' 106-98 victory on Friday when Bynum struck Beasley's chest with his right elbow and sent the Wolves forward crashing to the court in a midair collision when Beasley drove the lane.
"Andrew's [foul] looked bad and the kid fell hard," said Jackson after the Timberwolves game.
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said he didn't know whether Bynum should be suspended immediately after Friday's game. After seeing replays over the weekend, Rambis agreed with the ruling.
"He made no play on the ball," Rambis said Sunday before the Wolves hosted Sacramento. "It's unfortunate that things like that happen in basketball, but it was the right call. Michael is relatively lucky he didn't get more hurt than he did."
Rambis was an assistant coach with the Lakers during Bynum's first four seasons, playing a large role in Bynum's development from the youngest player ever drafted by an NBA team into a talented defensive center.
"I know Andrew, and he wasn't going up to do anything malicious," Rambis said Friday, immediately after the incident. "He just wanted to protect the basket, so I think he was making a good basketball play out of it."
Beasley limped off the court shortly after getting hurt, but X-rays on his hip and shoulder showed no damage. He played in Sunday's game against the Kings.
Jackson did not have a problem with the premise of officials calling flagrant 2 fouls, however. The NBA defines a flagrant 2 foul as "unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent" and it carries with it an automatic ejection.
"I think the 'el flagrante' is a good call," said Jackson, supporting the rule while at the same time poking fun at the league for its Noche Latina promotion that mandated L.A. wear "Los Lakers" jerseys when the Lakers played "El Heat" in Miami recently. "So, we'll just have to abide by it and just let the league make their decisions and hope that they'll be better judges on it."
Jackson said enforcing flagrant fouls ultimately protects the players.
"I think one of the rationale for making this move was expressed by Darell Garretson, head of referees at one time, saying he watched somebody take out Cazzie Russell at one time that took his knee and [caused] an ACL injury because of it that changed [Russell's] career," Jackson said. "They wanted to make sure that players don't just indiscriminately foul people that could limit their career and probably damage the players."
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak fielded the call from the league office relaying that Bynum would be suspended for not just one, but two games.
"I was told of the 4-5 times this season there was a one-game suspension following a flagrant foul in a similar situation, this was more severe," Kupchak said.
Jackson said that Bynum does not have a reputation as a dirty player.
"I haven't seen Andrew do that very often. Maybe one other time," Jackson said. "But even in practice he doesn't get involved in that type of stuff so that's a little out of character for him."
When asked about Bynum's suspension following Sunday night's game, Kobe Bryant said he was "proud of him."
"He earned his stripes," Bryant said.
Bynum picked up a flagrant 2 for fouling Gerald Wallace in Jan. 2009 when the Lakers were hosting the Charlotte Bobcats. Wallace suffered a partially collapsed left lung and fractured a rib. Bynum did not receive any additional suspension for the play.
The sixth-year center has been a key reason for the Lakers' 11-1 record since the All-Star break, averaging 11.8 points, 13 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
The suspension will cost Bynum, whose salary is $13.8 million this season, approximately $307,000.
Los Angeles started Lamar Odom at power forward, moving Pau Gasol to center in Bynum's absence. Odom already had started 32 games this season, 25 with Bynum out because of injury and an additional seven when Bynum first returned to the lineup as a bench player in December following offseason surgery to his right knee.
Jackson said that little-used rookie Derrick Caracter could be called on to play some minutes as Gasol's backup.
"This team is built for if somebody goes down, especially at this time of the year, everybody is ready to step up and help out a little bit," said Odom.
The time off could be a blessing in disguise for Bynum, who told reporters this week he is dealing with fluid in his right knee and is taking anti-inflammatory medication.
Bynum had his knee drained three times last year, twice during the Finals and once immediately after the Finals were finished, before going in for surgery to repair his torn meniscus.
Jackson told reporters before the Minnesota game, however, that the fluid in Bynum's knee isn't causing the same level of irritation to the 23-year-old center as the swelling in his knee made him feel last year.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.