Lakers center Andrew Bynum limps off the court after spraining his left… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Just as Andrew Bynum stepped foot toward the Staples Center exit tunnel, Lakers Coach Mike Brown cauight a glimpse of him. It left him convinced the left ankle injury Bynum suffered during the Lakers' 120-112 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday won't become what he calls a "long-term" absence.
"I think it's OK," Brown said. "He was able to walk out fine."
The Lakers won't officially know the severity of Bynum's injury until Monday when the team plans to re-evauluate him after X-rays taken Sunday night turned out negative. The team has listed his injured left ankle as a "moderate sprain," and it remains unclear if he will play when the Lakers host New Jersey on Tuesday. Although Bynum walked out of the arena before most reporters saw him, Lakers.com's Mike Trudell reported to have talked to Bynum. Trudell described the ankle as "sore," and highlighted Bynum's contention that his ankle feels "fine" and that he's "definitely" playing against New Jersey.
Bynum left with 1:49 left in the first quarter after appearing to land awkwardly on the foot of Warriors power forward David Lee. Bynum immediately clutched his ankle, left the game with trainer Gary Vitti and didn't return to the court. He finished the game posting zero points on two field-goal attempts and three rebounds in 10 minutes.
Any injury involving Bynum immediately sparks concerns since he's missed 122 games in the last four years because of numerous knee injuries. Yet, the Lakers hardly sounded worried that this was a long-term injury, namely because it didn't involve his surgically repaired right knee. Bynum had played injury-free through 49 games this season, and missed only four because of a suspension stemming from his forearm shove against J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs.
The approach has involved taking preventative measures. He always wears a knee brace. Bynum received a routine procedure that involved receiving lubricant along his right knee before the All-Star break. And before the Lakers-Warriors game on Sunday, Bynum received ice treatment on both legs, wore a compression sleeve over his right knee and set both of his feet in a bucket of ice.
"I saw it and he tweaked his ankle," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "He walked it off. He wasn't grabbing his knee or anything like that."
The Lakers absorbed his absence, thanks to plenty of contributors. Kobe Bryant finished with 40 points on 16-of-28 shooting a night after going three of 21 from the field against New Orleans. Both Gasol (26 points, 11 rebounds), reserve forward Troy Murphy (eight points, 11 rebounds) and reserve forward Josh McRoberts (eight rebounds) provided enough of a presence in the paint. And point guard Ramon Sessions looked increasingly aggressive, posting 23 points on seven-of-10 shooting.
Brown said it remains presumptuous to think he'll have to rely on such options moving forward.
"I don't think it's going to be long term," Brown said regarding Bynum's injury. "I'm going to wait and see before I start thinking about that."