Lakers' Bynum won't miss a step in playoffs

Lakers center Andrew Bynum claims his troublesome right knee will be no trouble at all when the Los Angeles Lakers open the playoffs Sunday.

Bynum participated in a full practice with the Lakers on Friday, just three days after hyperextending the knee during their home finale against San Antonio. The Lakers feared disaster, given their shot-blocking defensive specialist's history of knee problems, but Bynum merely bruised a bone in his knee.

"I'm fine," Bynum said. "It's nothing that's not normal for me at this point."

Bynum believes he'll be back to normal when second-seeded Los Angeles hosts the Hornets in the first-round opener Sunday, even while acknowledging "my normal is a little bit skewed."

Coach Phil Jackson isn't quite so optimistic, saying he'll see how Bynum reacts from Friday's practice on Saturday before guessing how effective he'll be against New Orleans.

"Actually, I was a little concerned," Jackson said. "He started out practice and felt like the knee was a little loose, a little different, but he proceeded and played fine."

Bynum averaged 11.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and nearly 2 blocked shots in 54 games, missing the first 24 after offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He was hurt against the Spurs when he tumbled to the floor after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot.

The pain initially frightened Bynum before he realized he could walk with little discomfort. He has experience with bone bruises after sitting out a game in February with a bruise in his left knee.

"It's the same thing," Bynum said. "It just hurts for a little while, and then it goes away."

Bynum's health could be among the Lakers' greatest assets or their biggest liabilities. He missed the 2008 NBA finals after injuring his kneecap, and Los Angeles lost to Boston that season before winning the past two finals with Bynum in the lineup.

Bynum and fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol are the Lakers' biggest advantages against undersized teams similar to the Hornets, who couldn't handle Los Angeles' size while losing all four regular-season meetings.

Bynum had fluid drained from his knee at least twice during last season's playoff run before surgery. He has fluid on his knee again this year, but not an excessive amount, and he credits the brace on his knee with preserving his health for much of the season.

Forwards Ron Artest and Matt Barnes also skipped Friday's practice. Jackson said Artest hyperextended his knee this week without revealing which knee is injured, while Barnes missed the Lakers' last two games to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

Both forwards are probable to play Sunday, Jackson said.

Kobe Bryant also sat out practice Friday, but that's normal procedure to keep Bryant fresh for games. The superstar is feeling confident about the Lakers' overall health as they attempt to make another lengthy playoff run to their fourth straight NBA finals.

"Andrew's feeling good, Matt's feeling good," Bryant said. "We've got to get our little sick boy back, and we should be fine."

That would be backup point guard Steve Blake, who's unlikely to recover from his bout of chicken pox in time for the series opener, possibly hurting the Lakers' defense against New Orleans star Chris Paul. Jackson visited Blake's home Thursday to drop off video of the Hornets.

"He looks very speckled," Jackson said of Blake. "He's got a lot of poxes on him. He says he's getting better. We hope his recovery is rapid."