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Kwame's Back -- And That's a Good Thing

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Tuesday night: Andrew Bynum has a career best 20-point, 14-rebound game in a win against Minnesota and at age 19 is the toast of Staples Center.

Wednesday night: He gets two points, five rebounds and fouls out in a loss to Portland.

Welcome to the NBA, kid. For young players it’s a roller coaster of inconsistency. Bynum and rookie point guard Jordan Farmar excite us one night with flashes of what can be, then the next night remind us they can’t even legally order a drink for two years (Farmar put up 14 points on the weekend against Seattle, then has gone 0-11 shooting since).

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Which leads to a statement I never thought I’d write: I’m glad Kwame Brown is back. (Somewhere in Washington, D.C., a Wizards fan just got a cold chill up his spine.) He returns against Detroit on Friday from a sore shoulder, and the Lakers need now what he brought at the end of last season — consistent play in the middle, good defense and rebounding. Every night. Bynum has played well enough that Phil is leaving him in as the starter, but on those nights he fades Kwame will be asked to not act like a 19-year-old.

While we’re talking about feeling better, Kobe Bryant looked human in his first game back (have you ever seen a Kobe dunk get blocked by the rim before?) but with each game shows a little more trust in his surgically repaired right knee. In the loss at Portland he had a classic Kobe spin move down the lane at the end of the first half and an up-and-under layup another time, finishing with 32 points.

For all their ups and downs this young season the Lakers are still 4-2, with technical-foul-happy Detroit coming to town. We’ll see which version of the young Lakers they’ll face.

AP photo by Greg Wahl-Stephens