The Lakers had to play almost the entire second half of Game 4 without starting center Andrew Bynum , who was limited to just 12:10 overall as he continues to struggle with a right knee injury. Bynum was in the locker room to begin the second half, and played only 1:50 in the final two quarters. Without his presence in the middle (eight blocks in the first three games), the Celtics — particularly Glen Davis — were able to attack the basket throughout a key fourth quarter and even the series at two games apiece.
“We didn’t have that big presence in the middle, and Big Baby took full advantage of it,” said Kobe Bryant . “He played extremely, extremely well for them.”
Bynum, who had listed himself as “questionable” for Game 4 with the knee injury, clearly labored during his short time on the floor Thursday. He was far from the player that had averaged 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in Games 1-3. The Lakers were also not the same team with Bynum as a non-factor.
“It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half,” said Phil Jackson . “He tried for a couple of minutes, but it just wasn’t there for him. We’re glad we have a couple of days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again.”
Should Bynum miss Sunday’s Game 5, Lamar Odom (39 minutes in Game 4) will almost certainly take his spot in the starting lineup. Odom hopes the change does not need to take place.
“Andrew is a big part of what we do,” noted Odom. “When we have him going we are a different team.
[With Bynum out] we have to protect the paint. We have to rebound as a unit especially without him out of the game to make up for his size and shot-blocking ability and the way he protects the rim as a seven-footer.”
But the Lakers will be prepared if they must play Game 5 without their center. Bynum has been far from an iron man during his career, having missed a total of 96 regular-season games over the past three seasons.
“We’ve played without him obviously in the lineup before,” said Bryant. “We got a good rhythm going with him in the lineup. We’ll just figure it out.”
One of Bynum’s fellow starters isn’t worried, however.
“It was tougher with Andrew out, but he’ll be fine for the next game.” said Ron Artest .
He’s going to be fine?
“Yeah. He’ll be ready to go.”