The Lakers have been one of the best teams in the league.
Through the first 45 games of the season, they have had a 36-9 record including big wins over the Celtics and Cavaliers, which is the best in the Western Conference and tied for second in the NBA as the Celtics have three more wins and the same amount of losses.
They have the most talented team in the league including the NBA's best player in Kobe, a pair of great big men in Gasol and Bynum and one of the best benches in the league.
Bynum, who missed the second half of last season and the entire playoffs with a left knee injury, had a slow start this season.
However, recently he had started to dominate at both ends of the court as he finally got his confidence and rhythm back from last season's injury. Over the last five games, he averaged 26.2 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks while shooting 65 percent from the field.
Overall for the season, he is averaging 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks while shooting 55 percent from the field in 29 minutes per game. The team is pretty much impossible to beat when Bynum plays well since Kobe and Gasol are extremely consistent and usually play well.
However, just about an hour ago Bynum injured his right knee on a freak play when the back of Kobe's head went into his knee.
Bynum immediately screamed out and was on the floor for a few minutes with trainer Gary Vitti before being helped off the court by teammates Trevor Ariza and Vladimir Radmanovic.
Kobe's face told it all as it looked like he just lost game seven of the finals on a buzzer beater.
The team is calling the injury a sprained right knee. Bynum underwent x-rays a little while ago and the results were negative, which means there are no broken bones in the knee. However, an MRI is planned for tomorrow and that is when we will find out the timetable for his return.
If Bynum is out for the season—a realistic possibility—the Lakers will have to decide if they are going to make a move to find more interior help. With Bynum injured, the Lakers are the same team they were last year with the exception of Josh Powell and Trevor Ariza, along with a more experienced bench.
The injury most likely will cost the Lakers a good chance for home court advantage over the Celtics, Cavs, and even the Magic.
The team came within two wins of the title last season without Bynum and the management of the Lakers will have to decide if they will make a move for a big man if Bynum is indeed out for the rest of the season.
The main strength of the Lakers this season has been its great depth. They will start Odom for Bynum and put Gasol at center which is still a great lineup. However, the team will still be weak inside as Pau is a true power forward and not a physical player at all.
Overall, the best case scenario for the Lakers is that Bynum is out for just a couple of weeks and would be able to regain his recent form soon after his return.
However, last season he was supposed to be back before the end of the regular season and he ended up missing not just the regular season, but the entire postseason as well.
This injury will put more pressure on Gasol and Odom along with Powell and Mihm to play better and tougher, but like always the shoulders of the team will go back on Kobe Bryant as he will have to lead the team through this difficult stretch without Bynum in the middle at both ends of the floor.
Update: After the game, Bynum talked to reporters and said that the injury isn't as bad as the injury to his left knee last year. He also said that he can put pressure on it and he doesn't need crutches like last year, but he will use them as a precaution. He was very optimistic that the injury won't sideline him for the rest of the year.
Update: The Lakers announced that Bynum suffered an MCL tear and will miss 8 - 12 weeks. Surgery is not required and he will start rehabilitating in 7 - 10 days as he will need to rest his knee during that time. The playoffs start in about eleven weeks and he most likely will return in the first round of the playoffs.
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