EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --The center of attention for the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz second-round series beginning on Sunday at Staples Center has shifted to the injuries to both teams' starting centers.
Jazz center Mehmet Okur ruptured his right Achilles tendon in the first round against Denver and is out for the rest of the season. Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who missed the final 13 games of the regular season with a strained left Achilles, underwent a MRI on Saturday that revealed he has a small tear of the anterior horn of his lateral meniscus in his right knee, the team said.
Bynum suffered the injury in the first half of the Lakers' 95-94 first round series-clinching win on Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder while fighting for rebounding position against the Thunder's Nenad Krstic. The fifth-year veteran played 12 minutes in the second half after sustaining the injury.
The Lakers said they became aware of the tear last June when Bynum came in for his end-of-season exit interview, but Bynum was able to play with the injury without it bothering him during the 2009-10 season. When Bynum hyperextended his right knee in the play against Krstic, the tear went from "very small" to "small."
"My knee twisted a little bit," Bynum said Friday night. "It will be alright though."
Bynum is listed as questionable for Game 1 against the Jazz and his status is day to day.
Bynum averaged 12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in six games against the Thunder and 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game during the regular season.
"There's some issues," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after practice Saturday. "He's hoping to play if he's asymptomatic tomorrow."
The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum had knee injuries derail each of his last two seasons. A dislocated kneecap in his left knee and a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee caused him to miss 79 out of 164 regular season games in the 2007-08 and '08-09 seasons.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.