BOSTON -- Andrew Bynum gave it a go, but couldn't go for long.
Battling a painful right knee, the starting centre for the Los Angeles Lakers was limited to about 13 minutes in Game 4 of the NBA finals, and the Boston Celtics took advantage to notch a 96-89 victory Thursday night that evened the series at two games apiece.
Bynum was on the floor for less than two minutes in the second half, and the Lakers sorely missed his size and strength. The Celtics had a whopping 54-34 advantage in points in the paint, a 20-10 edge in second-chance points and outrebounded Los Angeles 41-34.
"I would have loved to have been out there. I definitely could have helped," Bynum said. "All the layups, they really attacked the basket. That's what we missed."
Bynum has a torn meniscus, and the knee quickly refilled with fluid after he had it drained last week. He wasn't on the court down the stretch in Game 3, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before Thursday's game that Bynum wanted to give it a shot.
"We'll try to get him six, seven minutes at the beginning of the game," Jackson said. "He likes to get out there and participate and get the feel of the game, and we'll see how he goes from there."
It don't go much further.
Bynum played 10 minutes of the first half, then wasn't on the court for the start of the third quarter. He eventually checked in with about four minutes left in the period, then was back on the bench for good with 2:13 remaining.
"It bothered us in the second half not having Andrew be able to come out and play the start of the second half," Jackson said. "He tried a couple minutes, but it just wasn't there for him. We're glad we have a couple days off and we can kind of get him back hopefully in position where he can help us out again."
Without Bynum, the game resembled something from the 2008 NBA finals, when Bynum wasn't available after knee surgery and the Celtics overpowered the Lakers inside.
Boston's Glen Davis was able to bull his way to the basket in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics had a key possession extended in the closing minutes with an offensive rebound.
"We didn't have that big presence in the middle, and Big Baby took full advantage of it," Kobe Bryant said.
Bynum had been averaging about 25 minutes in the post-season because of the knee, but he had been effective early in this series. He had 21 points and seven blocked shots in Game 2, when he was able to stay in the game for 39 minutes.
But perhaps the cross-country flight, followed by the short turnaround before Game 3, took its toll. Bynum said he felt more swelling that night, and he said he knew within the first minute of Thursday's game that he had nothing.
"Early in the game I think Ron dropped the ball off for me. I don't even think I jumped," Bynum said. "I tried to jump. Didn't happen."
Bynum said he would get treatment during the two off days and was optimistic he would be able to play Sunday in Game 5, but it seems unlikely they can count on him for much.
"We have to figure out what we're going to do without Andrew," said Lamar Odom, who gets the bulk of the minutes in Bynum's absence.
The other big men on the Lakers' roster, DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell, aren't offensive threats and haven't even played in the series, so there is no other inside option if Bynum can't play.
They were reminded Thursday how different they look without him -- and it looks too much like 2008.
"We didn't run our offence, especially with Andrew out of the game," Odom said. "We've got to move the ball. We're just standing around. We're a different team without him (Bynum) in the game."