Andrew Bynum limps to the bench after injuring his ankle. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
After suffering what the Lakers termed a "moderate sprain" in his left ankle, Andrew Bynum remains a game-time decision for Tuesday's matchup against the New Jersey Nets.
He missed morning shootaround to receive anti-inflammatory treatment to minimize the swelling on his ankle, said Lakers spokesman John Black. Coach Mike Brown will turn to the Lakers' training staff to decide whether to rest him or limit his minutes. Brown said he'll either start Troy Murphy or Josh McRoberts, though the Lakers featured Murphy at center when Bynum missed most of the Lakers' 120-112 victory Sunday over the Golden State Warriors.
Brown sounded mindful of the need to be cautious with Bynum, considering he's averaged a career-high 17.9 points on 58.1% shooting in 35.9 minutes per game with 13 games left before the postseason. The Lakers (33-20) hold a one-game lead for the Western Conference's third seed over the Clippers (32-21), who will play them before a home crowd Wednesday at Staples Center.
"You always want to win your conference and you want to win your division because of the seeding," Brown said. "But at the end of the day, if it's going to jeopardize somebody, it's better to get ready for the playoffs."
Bynum suffered the injury with 1:49 remaining in the first quarter after landing awkwardly on his ankle while trying to block a shot by Warriors power forward David Lee. X-rays turned out negative and he limped while exiting the arena without using crutches. Bynum then spent the Lakers' off day on Monday receiving various treatments with trainer Gary Vitti, including electro-stimulation, ice and manual therapy, Black said.
Bynum has missed 122 games in his seven-year career because of various injuries to both knees. He missed the first four games this season because of a suspension and appeared in all 49 games after that. Bynum constantly wears a brace around his surgically repaired right knee. He received a lubricating injection before the All-Star game, which was described as a routine procedure. And before the Lakers-Warriors game, Bynum wore a compression sleeve along his right leg, kept both knees wrapped in ice and set his feet in a bucket of water.
"He's done a nice job of taking care of his body," Brown said. "You have to give credit to Gary Vitti and his staff, too, Judy [Seto] and those guys. They've done a great job of working with them in that area."
During Bynum's absence Sunday, several of his teammates provided contributions. Kobe Bryant ended a monthlong shooting slump by scoring 40 points. Pau Gasol increased his post production with 26 points. Ramon Sessions attacked the basket and finished with a season-high 23 points. Murphy played at center in Bynum's place and teamed with McRoberts to grab a combined 19 rebounds.
Gasol expects the team to provide similar support should Bynum sit out.
"Nobody can really do what he does, but at least some other guys will have to play more minutes, defend and rebound," he said. "I'll take care of the post."