From Brian Kamenetky, Land O’ Lakers: Those hoping Tuesday’s game would serve as some sort of preview for the Western Conference finals were likely disappointed from the jump, since Gregg Popovich kept Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker in street clothes. Combined with a thinned-out Lakers squad missing both Steve Blake (chicken pox) and Matt Barnes (knee), as a forecasting tool the evening was predestined to be completely worthless. Of course, all of that became basically irrelevant at the 8:11 mark of the second quarter, when Andrew Bynum left the game because of a hyperextended right knee — the same one he had repaired last offseason. Bynum suffered the injury after stepping on DeJuan Blair’s foot at the right elbow, extending his leg awkwardly before falling to the floor under the Lakers’ basket. He stayed down for about 30 seconds or so but was able to walk off the floor under his own power. He’s scheduled for an MRI exam at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
From Timothy Varner, 48MOH: The Spurs started George Hill, Gary Neal, Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair. The Lakers ran with 0.4, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The Spurs’ starters logged a total 130 minutes; the Lakers starters tallied 157 minutes. The Spurs lost by 9. Those are your facts. Andrew Bynum also hurt his knee, and that’s the tempest in the teapot that will emerge from this game. It already has. MRI this morning. Media frenzy to follow. The immediate impact of last night’s game had more to do with the Spurs bench getting a good workout against a great team. Players like James Anderson, who figures to play next year, got a foretaste of what it’s like trying to slow Kobe Bryant. Tiago Splitter was reminded that Pau Gasol is very good. These things pay themselves back in time.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: welcome to Bynum Watch 2011. This has become a beloved rite of spring here in Lakerdom. You can mark its annual beginning by the appearance in the same sentence of such words as “knee buckled awkwardly,” “possible hyperextension,” “went to the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti” and “MRI pending.” Oh, you didn’t think we’d make it all the way to the playoffs without a Bynum injury scare, did you? That’s just not how things are done around here. In case you missed it and are wondering what the wave of concern sweeping through Laker fans is all about: in the second quarter of tonight’s depressing home win over the San Antonio Spurs’ practice squad, Drew’s right foot landed on the foot of DeJuan Blair, causing his knee to lock up and hyperextend a bit. After spending a few moments on the ground, Drew went to the locker room under his own power but did not return. Video of the injury is after the jump.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The largest Laker sat there, scared and trying to make himself as small as possible in the very paint where he has been such a tower the past two months. As he did, the Lakers’ bold confidence about the next two months was suddenly muted. The ghost of Andrew Bynum’s past was haunting them with a resonating message far more frightening than their first five-game losing streak with Pau Gasol. This was a reality check – not just about their blossoming young center’s frailties, but of how fleeting these championship opportunities can be. It is no coincidence that Kobe Bryant said softly after the game: “The three-peat is upon us.” Yes, a dynasty can die just like that, with one misstep, and you can be certain that 30-something Lakers Bryant, Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher all got the message about their basketball mortality. The five of those Lakers veterans will earn the NBA’s ultimate blue-collar salute Wednesday night – all 82 games played – except they will do so not assuming anything after watching that 7-foot kid folded up again on their home floor.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Andrew Bynum’s troublesome right knee will be an issue again entering the Lakers’ postseason after he hyperextended it early in the second quarter Tuesday night against San Antonio. He is scheduled for an MRI today at 11 a.m. and will not play in the regular-season finale at Sacramento tonight. The knee is the same one Bynum had surgery on in the offseason to have cartilage reattached. He has continued to have some pain — taking anti-inflammatory medication to combat it — but has played well since the All-Star break in anchoring the Lakers’ defense and dominating the boards. Bynum stepped on the foot of San Antonio’s DeJuan Blair while running back on defense, overstretching his right leg to the point it buckled and he went down. The NBA playoffs start Saturday.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Folding his arms across his knees and burying his head down, Lakers center Andrew Bynum sat on the court. He had just lost his balance while trying to track down San Antonio Spurs forward DeJuan Blair, a sequence that caused his left knee to slip underneath him. Bynum then grabbed his right knee, a discomforting visual for any Lakers fan, considering Bynum’s well-documented injury history. But Bynum stood up and walked off the court as Lakers forward Pau Gasol patted him on the head. Soon enough, Bynum walked toward the locker room with trainer Gary Vitti following. The Lakers’ 102-93 victory Tuesday over the Spurs at Staples Center gives them a clearer look at the playoff picture, considering that L.A. can secure the No. 2 seed with a victory Wednesday at Sacramento and/or a Dallas Mavericks loss Wednesday against the New Orleans Hornets. But here’s something that even has bigger implications: An unhealthy Bynum will severely dampen the Lakers’ hopes to three-peat. Of course, the Lakers will have a better idea about the severity of Bynum’s injury once he receives an MRI Wednesday, skipping the team’s flight to Sacramento. But given Bynum’s injury history, it’s more realistic to expect a prolonged absence than a short one, even if he insists otherwise.