Bynum Says He's Fine; Jackson Shrugs
Not to burst that bubble, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he's unconvinced of any improvement in Bynum's health and doesn't foresee much before the end of the playoffs.
"It's going to stay the same,'' Jackson said after Wednesday morning's shootaround at the team practice facility in preparation for the evening Game 2 at the Staples Center against Phoenix in the Western Conference finals. "I don't think there's going to be a remarkable change in this type of situation. We just want to continue to regulate how much swelling (Bynum has) after a game, and what's going on with that.''
Bynum, who has a small cartilage tear in his right knee, said Tuesday his knee "feels fine'' and there's a "lot less swelling.'' Regardless, any improved health hasn't been showing up in the box score lately.
Bynum aggravated his knee in the first-round series against Oklahoma City and has had some solid outings since then while not missing any games. But he's averaged just 3.3 points and 5.0 rebounds the past three games, including four points and four rebounds in 19 minutes in the Lakers' 128-107 Game 1 win Monday over the Suns.
Jackson wasn't pleased at how Bynum, who averaged 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds during the regular season, looked in the second half Monday after the knee stiffened up. With Jackson saying halftime breaks are at least six minutes longer during the playoffs, he said the Lakers plan to have Bynum ride a stationary bike-type device at halftime Wednesday to "get activated.''
"I hope he plays a little bit better,'' Jackson said of Bynum in Game 2. "He'll have an opportunity to get used to some of the things the Suns do and (Robin) Lopez (Phoenix's starting center). He'll have the opportunity when they front the post to get some easy baskets.''
The Lakers are used to being without a healthy Bynum during the playoffs. Two years ago, he missed the entire postseason with a knee injury and the Lakers lost to Boston in the NBA Finals. Bynum had another knee injury last season, and averaged just 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in the postseason. But the Lakers still were able to beat Orlando for the crown.
"We have the ability to play without him, but we know how much he adds to our team,'' Jackson said.
If the Lakers advance to the Finals, the opponent very well could be the Celtics again. Jackson might not be looking forward to having an ailing Bynum go against Boston's front line.
At least the Lakers have reserve post man Lamar Odom coming off his best game in a long time. He had 19 points and 19 rebounds in Game 1.
"The last couple of years he's gotten hurt and other guys have had to step in such as myself,'' Odom said of this being the third straight postseason of Bynum either being out or limited. "We play big minutes and we play key roles on this team. I think everybody is prepared because of what we've been through as far as injuries.''
Jackson is preparing as if Bynum won't be himself the rest of the postseason.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson