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Lakers make right choice in playing Andrew Bynum

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A typical day in the past two weeks for Lakers center Andrew Bynum has involved going to practice in flip flops and receiving continuous treatment on the torn cartilage in his right knee, an approach Bynum and the team hope will ensure maximum health during the Lakers' postseason run. Since Phil Jackson's suggestion that he may sit out Bynum tonight when the Lakers play Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns, plenty of sentiment has poured out that Bynum should duplicate his practice routine on game nights, arguing that the Lakers should rest Bynum altogether in hopes that he'd be at full strength should the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals and presumably play the Boston Celtics.

Jackson has since changed his stance and stated that he plans to play Bynum tonight, but the debate over Bynum's health still continues. The Times' Bill Plaschke recently argued Bynum should rest until the NBA Finals, saying, "Time won't heal the torn meniscus, but perhaps it will strengthen everything around it, including his spirit, and better prepare him for more important battles ahead." Yahoo! Sports' Johnny Ludden pointed to Bynum's ineffective two points and four fouls in eight minutes in Game 3 as well as being partly responsible for Amare Stoudemire's 42 points in the Lakers' 118-109 loss to Phoenix, concluding, "Sitting Bynum isn’t guaranteed to help – he just had three days off, and that failed to spark an uptick in his production – but it also couldn’t hurt, given his ongoing struggles. The Lakers are used to playing without Bynum and they shouldn’t need him to beat the Suns, whose quick pace only exacerbates his ineffectiveness." ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky disagrees with the notion that Bynum should sit, explaining, "Unless it can be demonstrated that Bynum's condition would truly improve, pulling him out of the lineup could do a lot more damage to his psyche than a few bad games along the way would do. He has invested a great deal in the process of getting out on the floor, particularly given his injury history. Earlier in the playoffs, Bynum said he didn't feel like a veteran despite being in his fifth year because he hasn't accomplished enough as a player."

All three writers raise legitimate points with how there are plenty of variables to weigh regarding how the Lakers should use Bynum. But in the end, it's still necessary for Bynum to be out on the floor for many practical purposes.

One, all accounts indicate that rest won't structurally improve Bynum's knee until he has surgery, which he's chosen to have once the season ends. He opted to follow this route because having surgery would've entailed time off and an unpredictable rehabilitation process, a procedure Bynum's all too familiar with after missing 46 games in the 2007-08 season, including the entire postseason because of a left knee injury, as well as sitting out 32 games last season because of a right knee injury. On the same note, Bynum's activity in games, we're told, isn't going to leave him vulnerable for more structural damage on his knee. So why has Bynum then sat out of practice? He experienced swelling in his right knee at some point between Games 3 and 4 of the Lakers' Western Conference semifinal against Utah, and all the treatment he's receiving aims to reduce the swelling.

Those arguing that having a similar procedure during games will significantly help Bynum's injury only need to look at the weeklong lapse between the Utah and Phoenix series to understand why that's not an automatic formula for success. Though the Lakers took the right approach in keeping him out of practice, the constant treatment had a minimal affect on Bynum's knee, providing further limitation in the lineup. That means regardless of how much Bynum rests or sits, the Lakers will enter the NBA Finals against Boston (again, presuming this happens) unsure how Bynum's health will fare, a concern that heightens considering Boston's front line features Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace.

Those arguing that Bynum's presence actually hinders the Lakers production only need to watch the Lakers' 124-112 Game 2 victory over Phoenix. Though Bynum played only 18 minutes, he scored 13 points on five of five shooting and helped present one of many mismatches the Phoenix had trouble defending. There's no coincidence that Bynum's performance correlated with the Lakers' strong inside game with Pau Gasol (29 points) and Lamar Odom (17 points, 11 rebounds) since the Lakers' big men are known to have big nights when they're involved early in the game. Bynum may have finished with only four points on two of four shooting in 19 minutes in the Lakers' 128-107 Game 1 victory over Phoenix. It's no coincidence that the Lakers' first-quarter run began as soon Odom replaced him at the 5:31 mark and scored seven consecutive points. As far as Bynum's two-point performance in Game 3, his effort there seemed more rooted in the four fouls he collected than his knee. It also didn't help that Odom collected as many fouls as rebounds (both six). If Bynum were to stay out of the lineup in Game 4 or 5 against Phoenix, one can only imagine what Stoudemire and Robin Lopez would do in the lane, given their increased aggressiveness.

The hard part regarding Bynum's injury is that it involves too many variables to predict accurately how things will turn out. The Lakers thought after winning the 2009 championship largely without him, they'd be able to absorb Bynum's 13-game absence at the end of the season because of a strained left Achilles'. But the Lakers went 6-7 during his injury. The Lakers anticipated an adjustment period upon Bynum's return considering his history in taking a while to phase back into the lineup following an injury. But he scored 13 points in 30 minutes, five minutes more than Jackson anticipated Bynum could play. The Lakers imagined the weeklong rest between the Utah and Phoenix series making a huge difference. But it hasn't. Despite all the uncertainty, however, a limited Bynum still helps the Lakers more than if he sat out entirely. Though it might be tempting to think ahead and rest him for the Boston series, history shows that conventional thinking goes out the window when it comes to Bynum's injuries.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum fouls Suns point guard Goran Dragic during the first half of Game 3 on Sunday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times.

 
Comments () | Archives (40)

The comments to this entry are closed.

justanothermambafan:

You wrote: I was gonna come up with a caption but I have no words for that mess.

Response: Some of us do have limitations when it comes to writing anything meaningful except for one liners. ...hahahaha


Jesus Santos

u mean cheerleaders? :-)

IT'S GAME DAY BABYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

ONE DAY DREW IS GOING TO BECOME A BEAST.. I heard it through the grapevine and I am waiting...

That's foul! I already said no body contact....just swat the ball without touching the body. We need Drew in the 2nd Q, in the 3rd Q and in the 4thQ. Most often, he is on part-time Laker only. Well, part-time workers are paid by the hour not full pay. lol!

C'mon, Drew we need you tonight.

Sitting Drew is not the way to have him ready for Boston. The lad gets discouraged quite easily. Short bursts in both halves with some inside touches, which against the zone is going to mean attacking the zone from different angles. Jacking up outside shots is going to make Drew ineffective because the rebounds are getting out of his range. Attack attack attack and attack some more and we'll see some good numbers out of the bigs.

Then again, I could be wrong...

JR

Yes, Bynum helps us, especially if he's mentally into the game. The 2nd unit needs Lamar, especially if he also has his head in the game. See you on the live game chat. Who knows, maybe God will join us!

Jesus Santos,

You want a word to describe Drew: "Jesusmariajoseph" Godzilla is here.

Drew's knees are ok but the head is a suspect and his nerves are in doubt. LMAO!

Dear Laker Fans,

I need to get this off of my chest. Bynum is NOT getting traded! Not for Bosh, not for CP3, not for Dwight, not for Deron, not for nobody. My reputation as a brilliant basketball mind rides on Bynum's success. Why else would I overpay an injury prone center without even testing the market. I used the same approach when I gave Luke his 20 year contract, and I don't see anyone complaining about Luke's contract. Once I make up my mind about a player, there is no going back. I'm stubborn that way. That's why I stayed loyal to Kwame, Cook, Smush and VladRad for so long. I've put all my chips in the basket, and I don't care if Bynum's already wasted 5 years of Kobe's prime. I don't care if he is never healthy for the playoffs. I don't care that he got abused by Robin Lopez. I don't care how much better the team would be with Bosh. Potential is all that matters to me.

Sincerely,

Jim Buss

Rick, I will be preoccupied trying to keep the heads of Bynum and Odom in the game, but I will be with you in spirit.

actually in Game 2 Bynum gave us just enough based on his standards:

17 or 19th minutes

5-5 FG.

PLOD...PLOD...

Anyone notice when Drew runs the length of the court he has this prehistoric gait of slow vegetarian dinosaur..trying to escape the T. Rex Dwight the beast from the east...

plod..plod..

justanothermambafan:

You wrote: I was gonna come up with a caption but I have no words for that mess.

Response: What I meant to say some people have of mental block and can't write or think in paragraph and rely on one liners. So you are not alone, take for example mamba24 ..ROFLMAO!!! OUT FREAKIN STANDING!!!
So please don't feel bad, I suggest take up a writing class ..

Peace out from Arizona where I only speak English and carry my passport at all times..

Robin Lopez looks like one the three stooges, don't know where his eyes are looking. Is he cross eyed? How do you call a person when the pupil are located on the opposite side corner? Observe closely Robin's eyes.

Edwin Gueco:

Spot on Robin Lopez, Larry of Three Stooges.. hahahahaha..

WITH DUE RESPECT and jokes aside we need Drew period!!!! And next year hopefully he will have a injury free season and carry us to THREE PEAT!!

I love how the Plaschkes and the Luddens just take it for granted that the Lakers don't need Drew until the Finals. There are no guarantees until the Lakers beat the Funs 4 times. Drew's absence really brings forth a very fragile truth about the Lakers. Their strength is also their weakness. Without Drew, the Lakers only have 2 quality bigs over 6'8"...LO and Pau. Drew's absence forces both of those players to play extended minutes. The truth is that the Lakers need Drew and they need him now.

Ricky aka Spaniard Rick..

If you are reading this blog, bother we need some mind blowing analysis from you on game ahead of us. Look forward to your post..

Jesus,

We really need Drew that's why we are commenting and pleading to get off his a**. How come nobody is asking for Luuuuuuuke? or the Machiiiiiiiiine. We need the three of them to complete the 3 Laker stooges.

Listening to some of these pundits, they'd have you believe that the Lakers don't need their starting center in the Western Conference Finals. That doesn't make sense.

Edwin
I'm your elder by a few centuries so you have to listen, o.k?
When some turd shows up in the punchbowl (santos) and insults
our Justa, don't engage him in friendly basketball banter..

Obama just picked the Lakers to win it all (TNT interview with Marv)

Just heard MR President on nTNT that Pau is the best big man in the league (best foot work, savvy etc,) , Kobe the fiercest competitor and PJ the best coach...

I do not speak Spanish and carry my passport at all times..


'Two handed foul, but you guessed it, another no-call'

Sonnybelfast

C'mon Jim Buss, I pulled the plug on JaMarcus, you can do the same on Bynum.

Jesus Santos -

Here's another 1 liner for you:


BITE ME.

You mean this isn't a caption contest?

BLOGS WEAKEST LINK AND YOU ARE OUT:

Noah:

You wrote:

Edwin
I'm your elder by a few centuries so you have to listen, o.k?
When some turd shows up in the punchbowl (santos) and insults
our Justa, don't engage him in friendly basketball banter..

hahahahahaha soliciting allies, sounds like weak link and weakling, can't fight your own battle so leaning on others for security blanket.. could this be ROFLMAO!!! OUT FREAKIN STANDING!!!


On the count of three

You will wake up and realize Bynum will never be healthy for any length of time and hope that he can be packaged in a trade with Chicago to get Rose and/or Noah.

King James will then be put under the wizards magic spell and believe that Bynum is the key to winning his first ring and sign with Chicago.

Damn, Bynums big.

Noah - whoever you are - thanks.

But as I've said many times before - I got this.

The troll has been scourged, and I am now engaging it in starvation mode.

No worries.

More on Boston's loss last night.....

A good friend of mine bet a boat load of money on Orlando, I mean like so much, he knew positively they would win. He won't say how he knew, except that he knows his sports, right?

He's in Vegas still celebrating......

Math equation:

Santos machismo= 5'3" and a Lakerdog the size of a peanut.

Fatty - what's he betting on tonight?

Mark G - yeah. Sometimes you just gotta keep it simple!

justa...

Pinch me....

I'm dreaming we are in the Championships again.

I didn't ask him. I had just got his email with a picture of his winning ticket

Dear Laker fans of Machine,

- Machine provide pre-game notes for fans of Machine.
- Machine is now in locker room, taping ankle and brushing hair. Machine look very sexy in mirror.
- Bynum looks good and ready to go. Bynum get more rebounds than fouls today - Machine guarantee.
- My best friend in whole world, Kobe, tell Machine that he will show under-bite in fourth quarter. Underbite equals game over.
- Machine hope Phil give Machine minutes tonight.
- Enjoy game Laker fans of Machine!

Sincerely,

Machine

Fatty - you're like the little crab in that car commercial that keeps wanting to pinch things..... LMAO!!!

I pinch...

justa...

Just be happy I'm not asking you to 'Kiss me' like the song

Dear Machine,

It was MarcB, not me, making the comments in question concerning your contract. I personally have no complaints about your contract at this time, and wouldn't mind seeing you play a little more.

Of course it would be nice if you could knock some shots down.

Oh well I better go and watch the game on TNT and leave some of the intellectuals on this BLOG to share their insight:

Here is a good example of posts that convey real insight and harbor healthy discussions:

justanothermambafan: BITE ME
MarkG: I like it!
Noah: Santos machismo= 5'3" and a Lakerdog the size of a peanut.

Your old guys have done their best, but I'm afraid they may run out of steam, and just flat out quit after they get beaten up tonight. They've seen Sunnier days.

Someone besides Cobee and Paula are going to have to do something. With the workload they are expected to carry, it's a miracle that one of them hasn't been more seriously injured. Too many games left to play. Will they be able to last, and will it be enough? It's not looking to good.

You won't be keying on their perimeter shooters anymore, lest you be dissected by a two-time MVP and a rediscovered Amare, so will the
number-one perimeter shooting team in the league begin to have their way with you. Whatcha gonna do about Robin?

When it all comes apart, You guys aren't going to riot again, are you?

I seldom speak English and always carry my passport.

Sonnybelfast


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