Posted Feb 2 2011 6:37AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Starting center Andrew Bynum is out of the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup for their game against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night with a bone bruise in his left knee.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn't sure how long the shot-blocking 7-footer will be sidelined with the latest knee injury in a long list of setbacks.
"I'm not so sure it's just going to be one game, but it's a game-by-game decision," Jackson said before the Lakers faced the Rockets. "It's a bone bruise, and sometimes those things take more than one game."
Lamar Odom will start for the two-time champions against Houston, as he did while Bynum missed the Lakers' first 24 games following summer surgery on his right knee. Bynum is averaging 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.75 blocked shots in 24 games since returning.
Bynum complained of soreness in his knee during the Lakers' loss to Boston on Sunday, and he skipped Monday's practice to work with trainers. An MRI revealed a bruise in the oft-injured 7-footer's surgically repaired knee, prompting the Lakers to shut him down.
Bynum had surgery on his left knee after dislocating his kneecap in 2008, keeping him out for 47 regular-season games and the first of Los Angeles' three straight runs to the NBA finals. He partially tore a ligament in his right knee last season, but postponed surgery until summer to start all 23 playoff games in the Lakers' championship run.
Bynum's offensive statistics are down this season, but his defensive presence is a key to the Lakers' fortunes. Los Angeles has won 12 of 17 since he returned to the starting lineup.
"I watch Andrew's minutes a lot, and I like him in the low 30s," Jackson said of Bynum, who's averaging 24.6 minutes per game. "Maybe 28 per game is ideal for him."
Injuries are gradually piling up on the Pacific Division-leading Lakers, who have lost four of seven.
The Lakers have been without backup forward Matt Barnes for 11 games since Jan. 9 after surgery on his right knee, and backup center Theo Ratliff still hasn't returned from surgery on his left knee in mid-November. Pau Gasol struggled under a heavy workload during Bynum's absence earlier this season, eventually developing a strained hamstring.
But Jackson disputes the recent suggestion by former Laker Magic Johnson and others that the team could benefit from a major shakeup. Los Angeles' poor performances in its Christmas Day meeting with Miami and last weekend's loss to the Celtics shook many fans' confidence in the champions' ability to rise to big occasions.
"I don't think we need to make a trade, but we have to have our door open for business," said Jackson, who plans to retire after the season. "You're always ready to improve your team. ... I'm still prepared in any (playoff) series to put this team against anybody."
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