Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who missed the final 13 games of the regular season with a strained left Achilles tendon, returned to the floor for a full practice Friday for the first time since suffering the injury on March 19.
Bynum practiced with the team ahead of Sunday's playoff opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center (Noon p.m. PT, ABC) and was pleased with the outcome.
"I felt very good," he said. "Really, no pain. It went good."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson was encouraged by Bynum's effort. "We're very pleased. He's certainly not in any space where he feels like he's back, I'm sure, but we're pleased he was able to run and play and participate."
Jackson said he rested Bynum only briefly during the team's two-and-a-half hour practice session, but otherwise the young center participated without restriction. Asked if he could project how much playing time Bynum would be able to handle Sunday, Jackson deferred. "We'll wait until tomorrow and see how he reacts to the day's work."
Bynum, who averaged a career high 30.4 minutes over 65 games this season, believes he won't immediately be able to assume a full workload right away, but can have an impact immediately.
"Obviously I have to get my timing back and my conditioning back, but I will definitely be able to be out there and be effective," he said. "You can only get in game condition in games."
Bynum's presence is seen as a major factor in the team's ability to win a second consecutive NBA championship. "Andrew's a big help for us. He gives us a lot of different things," said forward Pau Gasol. "A big presence, and is going to bring us a big body and physicality for the playoffs. It gives us more options, more versatility."
The Lakers were 38-12 during the regular season when both Bynum and Gasol played.
"He looked great," Bynum's replacement in the starting lineup, Lamar Odom, said about the 7-footer. "He had exactly what he needed in time off. He wasn't limping or anything. He was running well out there. He should be alright."
Added Derek Fisher: "If it's based on how he looked today, [Bynum's] ready.
"He's sometimes bigger than even we think he is. He's on our team so we kind of take for granted his size and his presence in the middle, but there were some things in practice today when he and Pau were on the court at the same time where they can just play volleyball over the top of people and there isn't much you can do."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant also practiced Thursday after missing four of the final five games of the season to rest a variety of ailments, including a fractured right index finger and swollen right knee.
Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers and is author of the Land O' Lakers blog on ESPNLosAngeles.com