Malcolm Lee will play through hurt knee

Updated: March 8, 2011, 6:21 PM ET
By Peter Yoon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

UCLA's all Pac-10 guard Malcolm Lee has a slight cartilage tear in his left knee but is not expected to miss any playing time, he said Tuesday.

Lee, who is averaging 13.2 points a game and is UCLA's top defender, injured his knee during the Bruins' season finale Saturday at Washington State. He had an MRI in Washington and then another when the team returned to Los Angeles on Sunday.

Lee, a junior who was also named to the conference's all-defensive team, said the injury would probably require surgery after the season but it isn't the type of injury that can get worse if he plays through it. He's experiencing pain and swelling, but wouldn't need to wear a brace to play on it.

"The knee is stable as far as ligaments, but there is a piece of cartilage floating," he said. "To me it's not really a big deal. I just want to play and be out there fighting for my team. This injury is not forcing me to be out, it's more about pain tolerance."

The injury occurred on the final play of regulation during UCLA's overtime victory against Washington State. Lee was fouled and crashed to the ground. He remained in the game and made two free throws to send the game to overtime. He went to the locker room for treatment during the early part of overtime, but returned and made four free throws to seal the victory.

"I just got up to walk and my knee gave out a little bit," Lee said. "I didn't get hit in my lower body, I didn't hyper extend it, I just got up and it was acting funny."

Coach Ben Howland said Lee would not practice Tuesday and do only shooting drills on Wednesday as the second-seeded Bruins prepare for their Pac-10 tournament opener on Thursday against either No. 10 Arizona State or No. 7 Oregon. Howland said he would also probably limit Lee's minutes during the game. Lee is averaging 35.5 minutes in conference games, but Howland said he'd probably go only about 30 on Thursday.

"The bottom line is we're hoping to quiet it down," Howland said, later adding, "I don't expect him to be hampered."

Reserve guards Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson would get more minutes in lieu of Lee, but they are both dealing with illnesses. Anderson was to miss practice Tuesday with an unspecified illness and Lamb has tested positive for strep throat, though Howland said Lamb would practice through it.

Peter Yoon covers colleges for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com