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Everyone Panic? Andrew Bynum is Hurt Again

That's the only news of interest from tonight's game, a basically foreseeable 104 to 96 Lakers victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. With 10:09 left in the third quarter, Andrew Bynum limped off the court and into the locker room, trailed by trainer Gary Vitti. It soon emerged that Drew has strained his left Achilles tendon and will be reevaluated tomorrow. He walked off under his own power, so it didn't look that bad, but we'll see. After the game, Phil Jackson said that the team is "a little concerned" and that he expects Drew to miss "a little bit" of time.

A few words about strains, since there's a fair amount of confusion about them. A strain is a tear. It's not necessarily a severe tear. From sports-injurt expert Will Carrollhere's a clear explanation of how strains are classified.

Strains are graded as either 1, 2 or 3, usually written as I, II, III to be extra confusing. Worse, we have "+" added in, like "it's a I+ strain." All that means is it's in between 1 and 2. A 1 strain is some mild tearing of the muscle. It hurts, it gets sore, but it heals up quickly. You hobble a bit, you ice it, you rest and [get] back out there. A 2 strain is characterized by tearing - a "palpable defect." You can actually feel in many cases where the muscle fibers have torn.

A 3 strain is often called a "tear" or "rupture." Of course, any strain involves tearing.... It's a complete or near-complete tear. The muscle goes in opposite directions. [T]hat's when the muscle becomes detached, but short of a 3, surgery is seldom the answer. You'll occasionally see severe 2's and 2+'s that surgery helps speed the healing. Athletes have different timelines than normal people.

We'll find out soon how serious Drew's Achilles strain really is. Safe to say, he'll be sitting out at least a few games, as the Lakers aren't in any kind of win-now mode. They're four games up in the Western Conference race. Even with some tough road opponents (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Atlanta) coming up, there's no point in risking an exacerbation. Getting him back in close to full health by the playoffs should be the goal.

As for other events on the court tonight, it was all more or less as expected. The Wolves are atrocious. The Lakers don't need to exert themselves to beat Minnesota, and sure enough they didn't. They built an 11-point lead in the first quarter, lost it by the middle of the third, quickly recovered with a 12-0 run and cruised from there. A forgettable night at the office. Don't forget to clock out when you're done.

The Lakers shot the rock pretty dreadfully, making fewer than 50% of their two-point attempts and less than 30% of their threes. Lamar Odom had the range - he made four of his six attempts from long distance - and Ron Artest tossed in one of two. The rest of the team bricked 15 of 17 threeballs. A goodly chunk of the team's offense came at the free-throw line. They enjoyed a massive FT disparity over the Wolves and shot 83% from the stripe.

Derek Fisher played only 16 minutes tonight, his second-shortest outing of the season. He didn't practice yesterday because of a hip injury. Fish fired up six shots and missed them all. In his stead, Jordan Farmar (12 points, six rebounds, no turnover, good D on Johnny Flynn and Ramon Sessions) performed suitably, and Shannon Brown reminded us that he enjoys jump shots.

Kobe Bryant had seven assists in the first quarter and finished with 13, a season high. He went to the line prolifically but didn't shoot well from the field. Pau Gasol continued his quality play with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. He got beaten up a touch on the boards by Kevin Love, but that's forgivable. Love is a rhinoceros under the glass.

The final score of tonight's game makes it seem like the outcome was in doubt, which it never really was. Kobe and Ron played only 34 minutes, Gasol only 36. Phil, we can safely infer, knew this win was in the can. Pushing those three guys for 39 minutes each would've dressed up the margin of victory, but at the cost of further wear on the starters' legs. Against an opponent as feeble as the Timberwolves, you can afford to keep some powder dry. Get well soon, Andrew.











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P.S. - The logo streak is alive! The Lakers are now 5-0 since I dipped my icon in purple and gold. Someone give me money.

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