A two-for-one deal at center

Times Staff Writer

It's too early to apply two-headed monster status to Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown, but the Lakers' centers are moving closer to providing a combined consistent presence down low.

Bynum is currently the starter, still discovering his game a month past his 19th birthday, while Brown, 24, has been coming off the bench, collecting rebounds, blocking shots and scoring enough points recently to fulfill Coach Phil Jackson's vision of him as a 10-point, 10-rebound player every game.

They haven't quite put together a game where they're both firing full tilt, but, as Bynum said, "One of us is playing well each game.

"It's kind of cool. It's kind of helping the team out."

Sunday's game against New Jersey was typical of the last few for the Lakers.

Bynum started slowly and had to sit after picking up his second foul midway through the first quarter, but Brown came in and provided some punch with seven points and six rebounds in the first half.

Bynum picked it up defensively in the third quarter, blocking three shots in the first 2:01 as the Lakers gradually moved from seven points down in the quarter to seven ahead of the Nets.

For the season, Bynum is averaging 8.9 points and 6.4 rebounds, Brown 9.2 points and 7.7 rebounds.


A friendship between Bynum and Brown has been forged beyond the practice court, where they knock each other around in the post and then make peace by bowling together.

They each score between 150 and 170 a game, Bynum said, although they can't beat teammate Maurice Evans, who once bowled a 251 in an amateur tournament.

"Pros do that," Bynum said. "He has a job after basketball if he wants one."


The decisive edge the Western Conference holds over the East is an impressive 50-17 this season, but Jackson isn't sure it will hold up.

"Those things, they'll even out not totally, but they'll even out as the season goes on," Jackson said. "We haven't been out east, there's a number of teams that haven't been out east. We'll have our lumps out there when we go."


Forward Brian Cook did not play Sunday because of an un upper-respiratory-tract infection. Guard Sasha Vujacic, who is not injured, didn't play either.... The Development League team owned by the Lakers, the D-Fenders, has its home opener Tuesday against Bakersfield at Staples Center at 3:30 p.m. Fans who have tickets for the Lakers' game that night against Milwaukee will be allowed to attend the D-Fenders game for free. Tickets are not being sold for just the D-Fenders' game.



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