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Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension will strain Lakers

December 7, 2011 | 11:53 am

Andrew Bynum, left, drew a five-game suspension for this blow to J.J. Barea.

Seven months removed from the incident, the Lakers will begin feeling the lingering effects of Andrew Bynum's forearm shove against Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs.

It will have nothing to do with embarrassment from the Lakers' 30-point elimination loss. Instead, it will have everything to do with the Lakers' covering Bynum's five-game absence to open the 2011-12 season. For a change, Bynum isn't missing any games because of an injury. But even if his absence this season bears less consequences than his 24-game absence to open the season last year, the implications will still prove the same.

The Lakers will immediately find out who conditioned well and who didn't in the off-season, especially since three of those games will be played on successive days.  They will find out, whether the Lakers make any tweaks to their bench or not, if the reserves deserve more playing time. And in the case of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, both will figure out whether they're ready to absorb Bynum's heavier minutes. 

The consequences will extend past Bynum's return.

Even if Bynum has spent this off-season working on his conditioning, it's possible it will take time for his bulky 7-0, 213-pound frame to catch up with everyone. The Lakers will have to readjust how they operate their high-post game. And it remains to be seen if the Lakers will actually allow Bynum to have a larger offensive role. 

Of course, this may all become a moot point should the Lakers trade Bynum to land Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. But for now, the Lakers still feel the sting in more ways than one from last season's playoff finish. 


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--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum leads with his forearm as he meets Mavericks point guard Jose Barea at the rim on a driving layup in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Sunday afternoon in Dallas. Bynum was ejected for a flagrant foul on the play. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / May 8, 2011