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Andrew Bynum's return: Money for the Lakers AND John Sebastian

April 10, 2009 | 10:16 am

After all, it's customary that a Laker returning from a long injury gets serenaded by Sebastian's best knownDrew Nene ditty.  Dude ain't scored a hit in some time, so I imagine he appreciates a royalty check in the mail.  (Along these lines, he's lucky Andrew Barbarino didn't recover from an MCL injury and ruin his good fortune).  Bynum has clocked plenty of dollars during his time off the hardwood, but as the saying goes, money can't buy happiness.  Playing roundball sure can spark a smile, and Drew, along with his teammates and every Laker fan worldwide, were mucho toothy upon seeing the seven-footer back in the lineup.  Even better, a 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets provided a quality showcase for what the Lakers' playoff run could look like with Bynum back in the mix. 

What began as an exercise in cobweb removal (rusty footwork, kooky timing, flat out airballs) slowly rounded into a form reminiscent of the wave Andrew was surfing before the wipe out.  Maybe not pure domination, but his presence,as noted in yesterday's postgame report, couldn't be debated.  Misses were put back and rebounds were collected, whether by the kid himself or Pau Gasol (19 in all, 11 offensive), beneficiary of the attention garnered a second Goliath.  He even found paydirt on a shot bricked initially by Kobe Bryant, and then Pau. 

Symbolism, perhaps, of a big three back in action?

Of course, there's a fourth Laker who ain't exactly chopped liver.  Lamar Odom has provided a fairly consistent punch picking up AB17's slack, but now finds himself entering a box score from off the bench.  LO says he's cool with the move, although the O.C. Register's Kevin Ding found himself wondering if the rotational realignment left a sour taste in the southpaw's mouth

Personally, I think any frustrations on display last night had more to do with a less effective second half than anything potentially perceived as "demotion."  I was there when Phil Jackson noted the likelihood of Bynum starting again, and later asked for a reaction, LO not only seemed truly "fine," but it felt to me like he endorsed this as the right call.  Lamar has been fairly candid about the bench mob's struggles since his exit, and I think he appreciates being asked to help fix it.  At the very least, I think he understands the importance of trying, and what's at stake.  Would he prefer to start?  Probably, which gives him something in common with about 99% of the L.  But unless coming off the bench means playing 15-20 minutes (which strikes me as quite unlikely), I don't picture any resentment harbored.  

Jordan Farmar, however, could be stewing over the potential of shrinking PT.  When Derek Fisher ran into some quick whistles, Phil Jackson opted for Shannon Brown over the former Bruin.  PJ said the newbie Laker's muscles made him better suited to shadow the burly Chauncey Billups.  Strength acknowledged, Brown not only shined, but outplayed Farmar for the second straight game with notable minutes.  It'll be interesting to see if Kurt Rambis, filling in for PJ, continues to give Brown a look tonight in Portland.  No doubt, point guard play off the bench hasn't been strong for a while.  As a whole, it's the Lakers' biggest weak spot.  But when it comes to a title run, is it even important?