Lakers' Bynum to miss 8-12 weeks

Updated: February 3, 2009, 5:01 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum will miss eight to 12 weeks after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Bynum was hurt in the first quarter of Saturday night's win at Memphis. Kobe Bryant drove to the basket, missed the shot and crashed into Bynum's right leg. Bynum immediately grabbed his knee.

The diagnosis Monday was a relief to Bynum, who initially feared he might be out for the season.

"It's better news than I expected to hear because of the shot that I took," Bynum said before the Lakers played at the Knicks on Monday night.

Bynum, who was carrying but not using a crutch, noted the eerie similarities between the two injuries. But he's confident one aspect will be different: This time, he'll be back when expected.

Bynum hopes his comeback occurs closer to the eight-week mark, which would give him about 10 games to prepare for the postseason. Twelve weeks would mean the playoffs had already started.

Bynum's injury isn't expected to require surgery, and he plans to rest for a week or two before beginning rehab.

Bynum is the Lakers' third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, averaging 14.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.

The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum's injury brought back bad memories of last season for the Lakers.

He went down in mid-January and was expected to be sidelined eight to 12 weeks after bruising a bone in his knee and briefly dislocating his kneecap.

Instead, he missed the final 46 games of the season, as the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals. He underwent arthroscopic surgery May 21 to remove cartilage debris and smooth some rough spots on the underside of his kneecap.

"This is a team that went to the Finals last year that we put on the floor, so they're confident in what they can do," coach Phil Jackson said at the Lakers' shootaround Monday afternoon, before they announced the severity of the injury. "We know we're going to miss his presence, his rebounding ability. But this is a very capable team."

The injury came as the 21-year-old seemed to be taking a major step forward in his fourth NBA season.

In the five games before he was hurt, he was averaging 26.2 points, 13.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks and shooting 65.3 percent from the field.

Bynum's injury will mean more playing time for Lamar Odom, who is averaging 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in about 27 minutes a game.

"Without Andrew in the lineup of course we still feel really confident," Odom said. "We still feel very confident of our ability to play at a high level. It's too bad we have to do it without him, because we love having him around."

Bryant said it will be a different Lakers team without Bynum.

"It changes our team, and the rhythm that we're playing with," Bryant said at the shootaround. "Obviously we found a great rhythm there with him in the lineup, particularly the last week or so. So we're going to have to make some adjustments."

Bryant insisted the Lakers could still win a title without Bynum.

"There are teams that lost in the Finals that go back and win the next year," he said. "I think having Andrew in the lineup makes us a dominant team.

"With him out of the lineup, we're still a great team. You put him in the mix, it takes us to another level."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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