Andrew Bynum hyperextends right knee

Updated: April 13, 2011, 8:58 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- Despite the Los Angeles Lakers' late season struggles, the one thing they had going for them compared to their last two championship runs was a healthy Andrew Bynum.

That might not be the case anymore.

Bynum suffered a hyperextended right knee in the second quarter of Tuesday's 102-93 win against the San Antonio Spurs when he stepped on DeJuan Blair's foot, causing his knee to buckle.

Bynum sat on the floor with his head in his hands for several minutes after the injury occurred but walked to the locker room under his own power. He exited the game with 8:11 remaining in the second quarter after registering four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes and did not return.

Bynum will undergo an MRI on the knee Wednesday and will not travel with the team to Sacramento for their season finale against the Kings.

"He could be out a couple games," coach Phil Jackson said after the game. "There could be a bone bruise involved when you hyperextend the knee. His reassurance was saying, 'I'm going to be OK.' I think that he might have an idea about it because he's been through this before."

Bynum said if the Lakers were looking at Game 7 of the NBA Finals he could "probably play."

"It was painful right when it happened but it's not that bad right now," Bynum said after the game.

Any significant absence for Bynum could be a major problem for the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers, who had lost their last five games before taking on the Spurs.

Bynum was widely considered to be the difference maker in the team's 17-1 streak after the All-Star Game as he averaged 11.5 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 21 games after the break. Bynum is averaging 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and nearly 2 blocked shots in 54 games this season while patrolling the paint as the Lakers' most important defensive player. The 23-year-old's imposing size alongside fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol is the Lakers' biggest asset outside Kobe Bryant, and Bynum is in the midst of a remarkable defensive season.

"He allows us to be the dominant team we're capable of being," said Derek Fisher. "It's hard to think about not having him for any significant length of time. It was tough to see. He's so important to what we do, so to even think for a second that he might be out, the impact that would have on him after all of his work, it's tough to deal with in the moment."

Bynum underwent surgery on the knee in July, causing him to miss the first 24 games of the season. The sixth-year center also took one game off in February to rest a bone bruise in his left knee.

He had surgery on his left knee in 2008 after dislocating his kneecap, keeping him out for 47 regular-season games and the first of Los Angeles' three straight runs to the NBA Finals. The Lakers lost to Boston in the 2008 finals without Bynum, but they've won the last two championship series with Bynum in uniform.

Bynum also partially tore the meniscus in his right knee last season, but postponed surgery until summer to start all 23 playoff games in the Lakers' championship run -- and to make a trip to the World Cup in South Africa.

"There is always concern," Jackson said. "We've seen him go down a couple times that have been debilitating. So, there's a concern. It was kind of a freaky play, but they usually are and that's what basketball is."

The Lakers struggled in the first half against the Spurs, who rested Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs already wrapped up.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from Arash Markazi and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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