LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum awkwardly sprawled onto the court, staying down for an uncomfortably long moment. The 7-foot center then walked cautiously to the locker room with more than one teammate staring at his perpetually problematic knees.
The Los Angeles Lakers ended their five-game losing streak Tuesday night.
They'll find out what it cost on Wednesday.
Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, but Bynum hyperextended his right knee in the two-time defending NBA champions' 102-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs' role players.
The Lakers' hopes for a third straight title might have taken a significant blow when Bynum fell after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot during the second quarter. Los Angeles' superb low-post defender will have an MRI on Wednesday while the Lakers wrap up the regular season at Sacramento.
Bynum downplayed the injury while walking comfortably out of Staples Center, and the Lakers are cautiously hoping for news that won't derail their playoff run before it begins. Yet it's tough not to assume the worst with Bynum and his rickety 23-year-old knees.
"There's always concern," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who acknowledged Bynum could be out for at least a few games. "We've seen him go down a couple of times that have been debilitating, so there's a concern. It was kind of a freaky play, but they usually are, and that's what basketball is."
Bryant describes the shot-blocking center as the Lakers' most important defensive player, and his absence from the 2008 NBA finals was one reason Los Angeles lost to Boston before winning the next two championship series with Bynum in the middle. Bynum had surgery last summer to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
"He allows us to be the dominant team we're capable of being," said Derek Fisher, who scored 13 points. "It's hard to think about not having him for any significant length of time. It was tough to see. He's so important to what we do, so to even think for a second that he might be out, the impact that would have on him after all of his work, it's tough to deal with in the moment."