LOS ANGELES – He lumbered down the hallway, each step looking more painful than the one before it. Already, the Los Angeles Lakers had decided to hold him out of Friday’s game in Portland. No sense risking his right leg swelling again.
The playoffs start next week, and he knows he won’t be completely right. True relief won’t come until the end of the season. But if his leg aches, it aches. He’ll gut his way through the pain because he also knows this much: The Lakers can’t win without him.
Every team needs a coach, right?
Such is the state of the Lakers these days that their biggest health concern belongs to Phil Jackson, their 63-year-old Zen Master, who skipped the team’s flight to Oregon to rest his ailing leg.
As for the Lakers’ other giant gimp?
On Thursday, Andrew Bynum let the NBA know he’s doing just fine, thank you very much. A little sluggish, a little clumsy, but still strong enough to total 16 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes of work against the closest thing to a competitor the Lakers have in the Western Conference.
“It was almost like he never went out,” forward Pau Gasol said after Bynum helped push the Lakers to a 116-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets.