We all secretly knew that it was going to happen eventually.
In Sunday night's 120-112 victory against the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum suffered a "moderately" sprained left ankle after landing on a teammate's foot in the first quarter.
Bynum has a history of leg injuries but had managed to stay healthy in the 2011-12 campaign until recently.
Bynum may have said that he's okay and would likely play on Tuesday night against New Jersey, but the Lakers and their coaching staff should be awfully careful with their big man.
Is it really worth playing a highly injury-prone player when it's clear that there is slight discomfort? It doesn't matter how minor the injury is, if Bynum continues to play, he could risk aggravating the injury—and that would really shatter the Lakers' chances of any playoff success.
The Lakers are in a stretch right now where they're playing a plethora of teams that are either sub-.500 or on the brink of missing the playoffs. They have a healthy diet of teams like the New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings coming up.
They could handle these teams without Bynum, and the Lakers showed it Sunday night when Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy combined for 19 rebounds. Pau Gasol also stepped into the paint in Bynum's absence and played like a madman, scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Sure, they were playing the Warriors, but the Lakers' upcoming opponents aren't much more superior to the Warriors. They could afford to rest Bynum for those games if need be, knowing that everyone else will step up.
What if Bynum's ankle gives out in a meaningless game against the Nets? Then what are the Lakers going to do?
There's a high chance that the team is already going to make the playoffs, so it only makes sense for them to rest Bynum whenever possible.
It'll also give Murphy and McRoberts a chance to gain some confidence. They gained more playing time against Golden State, and they were both phenomenal. Such games will instill the swagger in their game so that they can play more consistently on a regular basis.
The Lakers hadn't hit the injury bug this season until Sunday night.
But if the team wants to stay injury free, they must be cautious with Bynum, and give his ankle the necessary rest so this mole hill doesn't turn into a mountain of a problem.
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