BOSTON (AP) -Andrew Bynum never had the opportunity to return from a knee injury and help his team the way Paul Pierce did in Game 1.
And out of all the games the young center has missed, none hurt as much as the one Thursday night.
``Definitely want to be able to go out there and play, help your teammates out,'' Bynum said. ``Not being able to do that kind of stinks, especially when you lose by a little bit like we did last time. You lose by like rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers ... people walking down getting layups and that's a big part of my job as a center. So it definitely hurts seeing your team struggle like that.''
Bynum was averaging 13.1 points and shooting a league-leading 63.6 percent from the floor when he sprained his left knee on Jan. 13 in a game against Memphis. He was hurt when he landed on teammate Lamar Odom's foot while going for a rebound, and recently had surgery that has him on track to return in time for the start of next season.
Pierce also went down with a knee injury after a collision with a teammate on Thursday night, and Bynum recalls having the same fears Pierce described after the game.
``Right away just pain basically, you just lay out like we both did,'' he said. ``And then after that you're just really concerned about it.
``You get the X-ray or the MRI the next day and it lets you know, and when it's bad the first thing that goes through your mind, is like, 'Wow.' It's like all this work I put in over the summer, especially for me, because I put in a lot more work than I normally do over the summer and I was coming back to hopefully have a successful season and it started off good but that ended a little too quickly.
Though Bynum didn't expect him to return, Pierce was able to come back less than two minutes later and lead the Celtics to a 98-88 victory. The Celtics' captain expects to play Sunday in Game 2, but Bynum hopes he'll be cautious.
``Hopefully he doesn't feel the pressure to come play and then ruin the rest of his career because he's trying to run on a hurt leg,'' Bynum said. ``So I wish the best of luck to him.''
UNSTOPPABLE KOBE: Lakers star Kobe Bryant has become pretty glib as his 12-year NBA career has progressed, but he admitted to struggling for words a bit when asked about coach Phil Jackson's description of him as unstoppable.
``Yep,'' he replied when asked if that's how he would describe himself before adding: ``I'm just joking.''
After a brief pause, Bryant said: ``It's kind of weird, to be honest with you. It's awkward because - I don't know, it's awkward. It's weird, uncomfortable even. Just uncomfortable, period.
``Because to me, it's always been about what the defense does. I mean, the defense can take a player out of a game any time they want to, all they have to do is focus on one guy. I think what I've been trying to do is make my teammates threats, this way it makes it a little harder for teams to key in on me, just by moving the ball and making them targets.''
Bryant's opponents would probably call him unstoppable. He won NBA scoring championships by averaging 35.4 points two years ago and 31.6 points last season, and earned his first NBA MVP award this year, averaging 28.3 points.
POSEY'S ROLE: James Posey expected to be back in Miami this season. Instead, he's back in the NBA finals.
Two years after helping the Heat win their first championship, Posey is playing a key role on a Boston team that needs three more victories for its 17th.
A strong defensive player with good 3-point range, Posey spent two seasons with the Heat and was planning on at least a third. By the time it became clear that wasn't going to happen, the Celtics had traded for Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and had emerged as a favorite in the Eastern Conference.
``My agent had had talks with Boston during that whole process as well,'' Posey said. ``And the later it got, just as far as options, what was out there, couldn't really turn it down because of the moves that they made and just having the opportunity.''
Allen remembers being defended by Posey, who helped guard Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006 finals and is now called upon to do the same against Kobe Bryant, and knew he would be a perfect fit on the Celtics.
``Any time you can get a veteran like that who has championship experience, he's not a player that wants the ball and he needs to shoot the ball, put the ball through me, but he does the intangibles out there on the floor,'' Allen said. ``That's the type of guy you want on your team. You know a guy like that can help a team win a championship. He knows what it took.''
And Miami sure missed it. The Heat fell to 15-67 this season, the worst record in the NBA.
``They just chose to go in a different route. That's just the nature of the business,'' Posey said. ``I thought I was coming back but that changed. Didn't happen. But things happen for a reason, and like I said, it's just the nature of the business.''
FARMAR GLAD PIERCE OK: Backup Lakers guard Jordan Farmar says he's glad Paul Pierce wasn't seriously injured in Game 1 of the finals on Thursday night because he's known the Boston star since his teenage years.
``He's from my area of Los Angeles, we play together at UCLA all the time,'' said the 21-year-old Farmar. ``I'm just glad he wasn't really hurt. He's been great. He and Baron Davis took over Magic Johnson's All-Star game and I've played in it. We've known each other for a while. He's been a good friend.''
Pierce injured his right knee in the third quarter Thursday night, but returned shortly later to finish the game, and is expected to play Sunday night in Game 2.
The 30-year-old Pierce grew up in Inglewood, while Farmar was raised in Woodland Hills. Pierce played at Kansas before joining the Celtics in 1998, while Farmar played two years at UCLA before the Lakers made him a first-round draft pick in 2006.
AP Sports Writer John Nadel contributed to this report.

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