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Ball Don't Lie

The Los Angeles Lakers should not have angered that witch

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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bynum

Let this be a lesson to you: Never rudely dismiss a Stevie Nicks-looking lady at the Third Street Promenade who wants a moment of your time. Let her read your palm, or pay her five bucks to tell you a story about past lives, or whatever.

But don't just go, "Pffffffffffffffft," and keep cruisin' for the outdoor patio at Bar Pintxo. That's what'll get you cursed, and that's what'll get your starting center, backup point guard and (other) wild-card swingman hobbled with just one game remaining before you launch your bid for a three-peat.

The Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday night with a 102-93 win over the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs, but they may have paid a pretty penny to do so, as defensive centerpiece Andrew Bynum suffered a hyperextended right knee during the second quarter of the contest. If you missed the play, you can see how it happened in the clip below (which is sort of haunting, owing to the spare soundtrack):

As you can see, Bynum stumbles awkwardly after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot while running back on defense. He hit the deck in pain immediately, grimacing and hiding his head, before walking gingerly off the court and back to the locker room. Not good times.

An MRI performed on Wednesday revealed nothing more than a bone bruise, which is good news, but it still has the 23-year-old center entering the playoffs on a gimpy note.

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Bynum isn't the only Laker heading into the postseason at less than 100 percent. Backup point guard Steve Blake has come down with the chicken pox, of all things, which the Lakers announced Tuesday will put him out of the Laker lineup indefinitely, pending a clean bill of health.

Elliott Teaford reported in the Los Angeles Daily News that Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said "it was the first time one of his players has had chicken pox," that he "wasn't sure how many [Laker] players and coaches hadn't had chicken pox" before. Making matters worse, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported that, while most of the Lakers did have chicken pox when they were kids, "Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest have never had the illness, making them more susceptible than the rest of their teammates."

Considering it typically takes two weeks for the effects of the ailment to really be felt, the Lakers could have three pretty important guys in dire need of oatmeal baths in lukewarm water come the end of the first round. And Kobe wants STEEL CUT OATS, training/medical staff. Woe be unto those who provide rolled oats!

And because it's important to pile on, Matt Barnes told Teaford at the Daily News that he's also having trouble with his surgically repaired right knee:

Barnes said his knee began to hurt after he went to bed after the Lakers' loss Sunday to the [Oklahoma City Thunder]. He tried to straighten it, but "felt kind of a sharp pain in the back of my knee and didn't think much of it."

"When I woke up I couldn't really move," he said.

Barnes said there was no timetable for his return to the active roster.

While the unavailability of Barnes and Blake certainly hurts by shortening the bench on a Laker team full of veterans, losing Bynum for an extended period of time would obviously be the real killer.

He's been a major presence down low when healthy, both on offense — he's snaring offensive rebounds at a rate higher than anyone not named Zach Randolph, Kevin Love or Greg Monroe, and he's cashing in on nearly three-quarters of his field-goal attempts at the rim — and on defense, where he's blocking a higher percentage of attempted shots than Dwight Howard, altering quite a bit more attempts, and clearing nearly 25 percent of all those available misses. The Lakers allow nearly five fewer points per 100 possessions with Bynum in the middle — that's the difference between being just a tick below a top-five defense and running alongside the likes of the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers. It's a huge, huge difference.

That said, take heart, L.A. lovers: Bynum was seen leaving the Staples Center without a noticeable limp after the game, and insisted to Janis Carr of the Orange County Register that his knee isn't all that bad. Bynum said he'd be back in the lineup for the start of the postseason either Saturday or Sunday; Jackson was a bit more measured, saying his center "could be out a couple of games." No one will know anything for sure until the results of the MRI come in later Wednesday.

In the interim, some enterprising Lakers fan should probably scour old newsgroup archives for some guidance in matters of the occult, or at least give that weatherman and high priestess from Cleveland a call. It's the playoffs, dog. Leave no stone unturned.

International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the Bynum injury clip isn't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse it elsewhere, thanks to FunkyAxl11.

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