At the close of the regular season, the Lakers were dealing with a shortage of healthy bodies. The bone bruise to Andrew Bynum's right knee kept him out of the regular-season finale in Sacramento. Matt Barnes missed the last two games with discomfort in the knee that underwent surgery earlier this year. Meanwhile, Steve Blake mysteriously contracted chicken pox and was quickly remanded to quarantine. This carnival of pain led the team to enlist D-Leaguer Trey Johnson as an emergency fill-in on the final night of the season.
But the Lakers caught a break when the NBA scheduled Games One and Two of their first-round series against the Hornets for Sunday and Wednesday, instead of Saturday-Monday. That's given them extra time to get guys right. Bynum practiced yesterday and, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN, has experienced no complications in his ever-fragile knees, so he's good to go for Game One. Ron Artest, though I don't think anyone knew it at the time, hyperextended his knee in Sacramento but will play on Sunday. So, perhaps, will Barnes, who had his knee drained on Thursday. Although Phil Jackson characterizes Matt's availability as "probably questionable," Matt said earlier today, "I'm playing tomorrow." Only Blake has been ruled out.
Look for Jackson to monitor Bynum's minutes carefully. Against a front line as weak as the Hornets', there shouldn't be any need to ride the big man hard right out of the gate. As for the Hornets, they're in good health. Aside from, you know, missing their second-best player in David West.
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