Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom are playing through pain


Andrew Bynum was hurt; Lamar Odom was, too.

Then Game 2 happened against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, and the Lakers’ recent worries about injuries in their frontcourt turned into hope for the near future.

All Bynum did was score 17 points on seven-for-nine shooting, with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots against the Jazz after he lumbered around the court two days earlier because of torn cartilage in his right knee.

Odom was bothered by a sprained right knee, so all he could add was 11 points on four-for-four shooting, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots — his first double-double of this season’s playoffs.

Thanks in large part to Bynum and Odom, the Lakers blocked 13 shots, one shy of a team record for a playoff game, in a 111-103 victory over Utah and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.

Bynum probably will have knee surgery after the season and acknowledged this week that he might be injury-prone — he has missed 117 regular-season and playoff games in three seasons because of injuries in both knees and a strained left Achilles’ tendon.

In the Lakers’ first-round clincher over Oklahoma City on Friday, Bynum felt soreness in his right knee, and an MRI showed a small tear. He plans to keep playing despite what he called a sharp pain.

But there was no disputing his impact Tuesday night.

“I was pretty comfortable out there, especially in the first half,” Bynum said. “Very aggressive. I was getting deeper position so I didn’t have to take too many dribbles.”

A lot changed with Bynum’s and Odom’s efforts in Game 2.

“I think the thing with the injuries is everybody kind of looks at each other and tries to figure out who’s going to be the first punk. We will talk about you like a dog, like a chump,” Kobe Bryant said. “Nobody wants to be a chump.”

Odom obviously doesn’t.

He has won one NBA championship. But he wants to win back-to-back titles, to separate from a pack of one-and-dones, so he will play through the injuries that have piled up, a sore left shoulder also included.

“This is the time where it’s like MRIs and going to the doctors, it doesn’t really matter,” Odom said. “It’s either you’re going to play or you’re not going to play.”

Before Game 6 of the Lakers-Thunder series, trainer Gary Vitti placed an electrical-stimulation device on Odom’s knee. Since then, Odom has worn a black athletic sleeve on the knee during games.

“I don’t really like wearing nothing on my knees,” Odom said. “The injury [is] going to hurt or feel uncomfortable. But it’s nothing you can really do about it.

“The doctors evaluated it, but I don’t want to go under any machines. For what? You’re just going to think about it a little more.”

And his shoulder?

“The same thing,” Odom said. “There’s no need to go under the machine. I try to strengthen it. I make sure when I’m at home I do my push-ups and my sit-ups so I can make sure the rest of my body is hard so I can protect myself. Other than that, what are you going to do? No excuses.”

The Lakers have a long break in the series with Game 3 on Saturday in Utah.

Everybody seemed to welcome it, starting with a day off Thursday.

“It does wonders for me, and especially for guys with hurt fingers — Ron [Artest], Shannon [Brown],” Bynum said. “And obviously Kobe, Pau [Gasol], it’s just going to be a good time for everybody to heal up a little bit.”

A little defensive

Bryant was selected Wednesday to the NBA All-Defensive team for the 10th time in his career, joining Orlando center Dwight Howard, Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace, Cleveland forward LeBron James and Boston guard Rajon Rondo.

Bryant has been a first-team selection eight times, including the last five seasons. He was a second-team selection in 2001 and 2002.

The 30 NBA head coaches selected the team.

Set to return

Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko probably will play in Game 3 after missing six weeks because of a strained left calf.

“He adds a lot of energy to their team,” Bryant said. “He’s a very versatile defender, an excellent passer. He’s all over the place.”

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