By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Andrew Bynum's injured right knee continues to swell but he will play through the pain barrier to help the Los Angeles Lakers tighten their grip on the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in Sunday's Game Two.
The seven-foot (2.13m) center contributed 10 points and six defensive rebounds for the NBA champions as they overpowered Boston 102-89 in the series opener on Thursday, just three days after having fluid removed from his knee.
Although the fluid returned within 24 hours and he requires one-and-a-half hours of treatment before games, Bynum knows his towering presence is sorely needed by the Lakers.
"I'm going to play no matter what," the 22-year-old told reporters after a practice session on Saturday at the Lakers' El Segundo base. "I've made that decision already.
"It's important for me to go out and get easy buckets for us, just protect our rotation and really understand how I can hurt this team going out and getting in an open position, shooting over the top, defensively taking up space, clogging the lane and being able to help out like that.
"On Sunday we're going to come out focused and be able to really withstand the energy they're going to come out with because they realize going down 2-0 will be catastrophic."
Asked if his right knee was deteriorating, Bynum replied: "It's getting a little bit more swollen day-in and day-out but treatment kind of suppresses it and keeps it to a level of where we can handle it."
Bynum hyper-extended his knee five weeks ago against the Oklahoma City Thunder and, though he continued to start for the Lakers, his effectiveness and playing time have been limited.
On Thursday, however, he played for 28 minutes against Boston and was a continual thorn in their side in both offense and defense, along with fellow seven-footer Pau Gasol.
"Size matters and it had an impact in the game," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before his team's practice session on Saturday. "We missed a lot of shots at the basket.
"You thought: 'Wow, we missed lay-ups. On film a lot of those missed lay-ups were because Bynum was around, Gasol was around. They have a lot of length and they blocked some as well."
Spaniard Gasol, who weighed in with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots in the series opener, was overawed by Bynum's contribution on an injured knee.
"What Andrew is doing throughout this playoffs has been incredible, to be able to play through his injuries and the soreness," he said.
"You've got to really take your hat off in front of him because he's been a huge factor. He did a great job in Game One, and we look forward for the next games, also, that he's a positive factor for us."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)