Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Basketball

Bynum or no, Jackson thinks Lakers can win Game 5

BOSTON (AP) — Lakers coach Phil Jackson does not have "any expectations" for injured center Andrew Bynum.

However, there is one thing Jackson is counting on.

"We're going to try and establish the fact that we're going back to L.A. with a 3-2 lead," Jackson said Friday. "We believe we can do it. We felt we let one get away last night."

More like the rougher and tougher Celtics took it.

With Bynum limited to only 12 minutes and on the bench for nearly the entire second half because of his sore right knee, Boston pounded Los Angeles inside in a 96-89 victory that evened the series at two games apiece.

The Celtics had a 54-34 advantage in points in the paint, with Glen Davis and Boston's bigs finding room in the areas that Bynum often controls.

"They miss him," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I mean, he has great size and length, and we attacked the paint yesterday, and Andrew wasn't there. So I mean, obviously when he's not on the floor, there's a big difference."

Neither team practiced Friday, the first of two days off before Game 5 on Sunday night. The break comes at a good time for the Lakers, with Jackson saying he thought Kobe Bryant looked tired late in Thursday's game.

Jackson hadn't spoken to Bynum, who planned to see a doctor and get treatment. He has a torn meniscus and recently had fluid drained from the knee, but the swelling has returned. He said Thursday having it drained again could be another option.

He was optimistic he can play Sunday and Jackson will give him the chance if he's "available and able." However, Bynum won't be used if it would hurt himself or the Lakers.

"If he can't get back in defense transition-wise, and that's one of the things they're trying to attack with our first unit obviously, when Andrew is out there is try and run, then obviously he's going to hurt the team," Jackson said.

The Lakers may not have any better options. Sixth man Lamar Odom gets the bulk of the minutes in Bynum's absence, but he's been largely ineffective in the series and at 230 pounds, he weighs about 55 less than the 7-foot Bynum and is more easily shoved around by the Celtics forwards.

That's what happened in the 2008 finals, and it was repeated Thursday.

"Lamar struggled two years ago in this series in this matchup, and he has to break through kind of that mental gap that he had from that experience to move forward," Jackson said.

DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell are the other big men on the roster, but neither has played in the series. Jackson said Powell is ready, but his take on Mbenga's mental readiness was that "sometimes a guy hasn't played in a while and you'll look in there and it may be kind of vacant in there."

So it's probably Bynum or bust for the defending champions, who had a three-point lead at halftime and had played the Celtics evenly inside when Bynum was in before he was limited to only two minutes in the second half.

"Even with him dragging the leg around a little bit, he still helped us in situations last night, getting rebounds that I thought a lot of our other guys got the ball knocked out of their hands, fumbled the ball, went out of bounds off of them," Jackson said. "Andrew still has the length and the strength to capture rebounds that we need."

The finals are tied heading into Game 5 for the first time since 2006, and the team winning the rebounding battle has won all four games. Boston used its advantage Thursday to score 20 second-chance points, doubling the Lakers' total.

"We need to do a better job next game on rebounding, putting bodies on people and not allowing them to get as many second-chance points as they did tonight," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said after Thursday's game. "You know, it's a key point. It's a key point that we have to understand, and we've got to do what it takes to control that."

Bryant and Gasol have provided much of the offense while Odom and Ron Artest continue to struggle. The Celtics have received much better balance, getting double-figure scoring off the bench Thursday from Davis and Nate Robinson, plus key contributions from Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace.

"We call them the emotional group because they are, and on nights when their emotions and the stars and the moons are aligned right, they can be really effective," Rivers said. "You know, when they play hard and with that much intensity, something is going to happen."

Wallace's technical foul was upheld Friday, meaning both he and starting center Kendrick Perkins are one away from a seventh of the postseason that would trigger an automatic one-game suspension.

Either would be a big loss, but perhaps not as much as if the Lakers had to go without Bynum. They'd been able to get by with him limited to just 25 minutes per game during the postseason, but not against a team with the Celtics' collection of size.

"We'll just figure it out. I'm not sure how yet," Bryant said. "We've played without him obviously in the lineup before. We got a good rhythm going with him in the lineup. We'll just figure it out."