Bynum’s situation unknown for Game 5

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / June 12, 2010

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Andrew Bynum’s value to the Lakers becomes more clear with each moment he is unable to man the paint with his 7-foot body.

In Game 4 Thursday night, Bynum played fewer than two minutes in the second half because he was resting his right knee, which has troubled him throughout the Finals. The Celtics took advantage of Bynum’s absence by controlling the boards and rolling to a 96-89 victory to tie the series at two games apiece. Bynum’s status for Game 5 tomorrow is unknown.

Bynum met with doctors yesterday morning to evaluate the injury, but when Lakers coach Phil Jackson met with the media, he didn’t have much to report on his center.

If Bynum is out or limited in his minutes, Jackson will likely ask Lamar Odom to step in like he did in 2008. Odom has not been as consistent in this series as he was in the Western Conference finals, when he averaged 14.1 points and 11.8 rebounds.

Foul trouble plagued Odom in the first two games, then in Game 3 he had 12 points and five rebounds to help the Lakers take a 2-1 lead. In Game 4, Odom played 39 minutes and provided 10 points and seven rebounds. But Odom looked uncomfortable at times posting up and couldn’t stop the Celtics from building a 41-34 rebounding advantage.

“We’re just trying to find a comfort spot for him out there,’’ Jackson said. “He looked uncomfortable [Thursday], and he got a couple of double whammies go against him — [Kevin] Garnett out there for a while and then he had [Glen] Davis coming at him, and things kind of snowballed on him.’’

Odom is capable of a big performance, and for the Lakers’ sake this would be a good time for the 11-year veteran to have that type of outing.

Bynum is averaging 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds this series. He had seven blocks in Game 2 and has been key to winning the rebound battle, an important number since the team with the most rebounds has won each game.

“Well, they miss him,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I mean, he has great size and length and we attacked the paint [on Thursday], and Andrew wasn’t there. So I mean, obviously when he’s not on the floor there’s a big difference.

“They miss him, but again, I still think usually in the fourth quarters or late, in the last six minutes of the game, it’s usually Lamar Odom and [Pau] Gasol anyway.’’

When Odom was struggling earlier in the series, he said he would find a way to contribute if he is on the floor. In Game 4, he said the Lakers got away from running their offense and playing as a team.

“I’m not going to put it on my shoulders to win or lose the game,’’ Odom said. “We have to move the ball and become a team, become a tighter team. We have to protect the paint. We have to defensive rebound as a unit especially with [Bynum] out of the game, we have to make up for his size and his shot-blocking ability and the way he protects the rim at 7 feet . . . If we don’t do that, then we are in trouble, especially on the defensive boards.’’

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