Lakers' Bynum suffers injury
LOS ANGELES -- Lakers starting center Andrew Bynum left Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves because of a strained left Achilles tendon and will be out of the lineup indefinitely, pending further evaluation.
Bynum left the game with 10 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the third quarter and headed to the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti where the 7-footer remained for the rest of the game.
Bynum said there wasn't any collision that caused the injury; he was simply running back on defense when it occurred. He said he would have an MRI on Saturday.
"I felt a really sharp, really quick pain," Bynum said after the game, wearing a walking boot on his left foot. "[It was] maybe one, two seconds of sharp pain."
The fifth-year center, who was averaging 20.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks during the Lakers' four-game winning streak coming into Friday's game, had 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting and five rebounds against Minnesota.
"We're concerned about Andrew," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after the game. "He'll probably miss a little while."
The timetable for Bynum's return is undetermined.
This is the fourth injury Bynum has dealt with this season, following a strained right elbow, swollen left knee and bursitis in his right hip. Bynum also missed significant portions of each of the last two seasons because of injuries to both knees.
"We really know how to play without Andrew," Jackson said. "We've done a lot. We've gone through playoffs, etc. We're OK in that regard, it's about the support system behind that."
Jackson said Lamar Odom tweaked his shoulder Friday and Pau Gasol (tonsillitis) and Derek Fisher (sore hip, groin) continue to recover from ailments that caused them to miss Thursday's practice.
Coincidentally, Bynum's recent spike in production was the subject of Jackson's pregame media session.
"Andrew started coming in six weeks, two months ago and really dedicating himself to not only loss of strength, he had some injuries, he had some things go on and he felt that he wasn't as strong as he was earlier in the season and he got back and started working on rebuilding his strength and it's really noticeable right now," Jackson said before the game. "He's a lot stronger and with the length he has, that ability to stop him, he can take a foul and put the ball back in the hoop without getting a call. It makes it much easier on your team."
That ease was absent after the game as the Lakers faced the reality of maintaining stability through another injury in a season that has already seen Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic and Bynum miss significant time.
"We're going to use our practice [Saturday] to kind of reassess how we're going to play without Andrew for a little bit here," Jackson said.
Jackson said offense is what the team will miss most in Bynum's absence.
"He gets easy baskets for us," Jackson said. "He's obviously a big body and can get things accomplished by plugging the lane and things. But he gets easy baskets, it's obvious. He shoots almost 60 percent from the field. Six out of 10 times when he shoots it, he's going to score."
Bynum's play had a lot to do with the Lakers building momentum toward the postseason after hitting a lull and going 0-3 on a road trip through Miami, Charlotte and Orlando.
Said Gasol: "I really don't want to think about [Bynum being out]. It would be hard to miss Andrew for any period of time because he's been playing really well and he's such a great player for us down low, contributing a lot in many ways. He's matured his game and developed a lot lately and so I'm really upset. ... We need him back."
At least one teammate remained optimistic.
"I saw [Bynum] after the game," Bryant said. "It didn't look like he was limping too much. Hopefully he'll be fine."