Lakers center Andrew Bynum plays despite food poisoning

Reporting from Portland, Ore.

Andrew Bynum was feeling pain and it had nothing to do with his knee. Lakers fans were able to exhale.

His teammates had no reason to look so lethargic in a 93-86 loss Friday against Portland, but Bynum looked sluggish because of food poisoning that almost caused him to miss the game.

He skipped the morning shoot-around, blaming bad salmon he consumed late Wednesday in San Francisco.

“It wasn’t done but I ate it anyway,” he said, obviously regretting his decision.

Lakers-Blazers photos


The Lakers played Wednesday at Golden State and stayed the night in San Francisco before heading to Portland on Thursday.

Bynum seemed fine Friday morning when he announced on his Twitter account he was headed to breakfast. That’s when things went badly for him.

It wasn’t the first instance of Lakers-related food poisoning traced to Northern California.

Kobe Bryant was sick for a playoff game in May 2002 after eating a room-service dinner of a bacon cheeseburger and cheesecake. Bryant scored 22 points in 40 minutes that day after taking three liters of intravenous fluids.

Lakers-Blazers box score

Bynum didn’t need to go that far. He sipped hot tea and had a box of 24 water bottles next to him in the locker room before Friday’s game.

He had only three points and six rebounds in 31 minutes before fouling out with 2:46 to play.

Bynum had been on a tear, averaging 12.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in March. In his first three games this month, he had averaged 11 points and 15.2 rebounds.

Killer Zzzz’s

The “Killer B’s,” as they like to be called, haven’t exactly been killing opponents, leaving the Lakers’ reserves in disarray.

Matt Barnes has been solid but Steve Blake and Shannon Brown have had trouble scoring.

The latest sample: Brown had seven points on three-for-10 shooting and Blake had two points on one-for-four shooting against Portland.

“We’re trying to get them to shoot well,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “They have open shots, they’re just not shooting well. And they’re turning the ball over and that’s something you really don’t want to see happen. Take possession of the ball and claim it.”

Stacking up

The Lakers weren’t the only ones with a losing streak among the Western Conference leaders — Dallas had lost four consecutive games before finally beating the Clippers on Friday, 107-96.

The result of the Mavericks’ slippage? A suddenly tight race for third place in the West.

Dallas (54-25) is only a game ahead of fast-closing Oklahoma City, and the Thunder would own the tiebreaker because it’s a division winner.

If the Lakers advance out of the first round, they might run into Oklahoma City, not Dallas, in the conference semifinals.

“We’re aware of that,” Jackson said. “That really doesn’t play into anything. First round is what we’re worried about now.”