Lakers health update: Andrew Bynum reports no pain, Matt Barnes and Ron Artest have knee injuries, Steve Blake will miss Game 1 of Lakers-Hornet series
Any Lakers health update usually involves center Andrew Bynum.
So here's the latest: Bynum participated in what he said was a full practice Friday, reported little pain from the bone bruise in his right knee and will suit up Sunday in Game 1 of the Lakers-Hornest first-round playoff series.
"It felt fine," said Bynum, who has frequently iced his knee. "It was all right. I'll be all right. It's nothing that's not normal at this point."
But not everything turned out according to plan. Bynum couldn't practice in five-on-five scrimmages like he had hoped because other teammates weren't available. Lakers guard Steve Blake won't play in Game 1 because of chicken pox, and Jackson hopes he can return for Game 2 on Wednesday but said he isn't certain. Jackson also said forwards Matt Barnes (sore right knee) and Ron Artest (hyperextended knee) sat out of Friday's practice and are listed as "probable" for Game 1 against New Orleans. Barnes has missed the last two games because of soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, although an MRI exam revealed no further damage. Jackson said Artest hyperxtended his knee in the Lakers' 116-108 overtime victory in their season finale Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings, but declined to say which knee was hurt.
The Lakers are cautiously optimistic on Bynum playing Sunday while monitoring Blake's progression in returning to health after his battle with chicken pox.
Jackson wants to see how Bynum's body responds Saturday after feeling the full effects from Friday's practice before envisioning what he can provide for the Lakers-Hornets series. But the initial accounts appeared positive. Only the latter portion of the Lakers' practice at their facility in El Segundo was open to the media, and during that time Bynum worked on his shooting, passed basketballs to Pau Gasol during shooting drills and seemed in high spirits when he talked with Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw. He appeared to move well without limitation, and the Lakers offered positive assessments. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said he looked "normal," Gasol said he was "moving well" and Jackson acknowledged Bynum surpassed his expectations.
"Actually I was concerned," Jackson said of Bynum's surgically repaired right knee, which was hyperextended Tuesday against San Antonio. "He started off practice and it looked like the knee was a little loose and a little different. He preceded it and played fine."
Meanwhile, the Lakers aren't sure how long it will take for Blake to fully recover from the chicken pox. The Lakers characterized Blake as feeling more energetic and having less of a rash. They had everyone on the team take immunity tests Thursday and are awaiting the results to see if any other team member has been infected. And Jackson stopped by Blake's house to deliver game tape and to see how he's doing.
"We didn't touch, but we stood close enough to talk," Jackson said of Blake. "He looked very speckled. He has a lot of poxes on it. But he says he's feeling better. We hope his recovery is rapid. We're holding out for Sunday but the reality is it might be Wednesday he'll be able to get back."
Meanwhile, Blake's wife, Kristen, has provided plenty of updates via Twitter on Steve's recovery, which she said included taking oatmeal baths. She also added that Theo Ratliff's family sent out a feast and a get-well card to the Blake family.
"Sorry guys but the only one who knows the EXACT day Steve will return (as with every injury or illness) is God! But he is recovering well," Kristen tweeted. "And he's getting better and stronger every day. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers. Much love. :)"
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