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Major help appears to be on way

Times Staff Writer

One by one, they’re coming back, perhaps even two at the same time.

Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown are expected to practice today, although Brown said he felt some pain in his ankle while working on post moves Monday morning. Odom is on target to return Friday against Charlotte, but Brown’s situation is a little less clear.

Odom has been out since Dec. 12 because of a sprained knee ligament but didn’t seem overly concerned about being rusty. The Lakers have three days before their next game, enough time to integrate him back into the flow.

“It’s basketball,” Odom said. “I still feel confident [about] what I can do for the team, what I can do out there.”

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Odom was off to arguably his best start in eight NBA seasons, averaging 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

He might have to play with a brace on his right knee, although he prefers not to -- he doesn’t want opponents to perceive it as a weakness. “I don’t want to put that ‘X’ on my back,” he said.

Brown, averaging 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, has been out since Dec. 31 because of a sprained ankle. The ankle still bothers him when he jumps, although he might play Friday.

The Lakers have gone 7-4 without Odom and Brown. They appeared fatigued last week in road losses to Dallas and New Orleans.

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“We’ve been doing a good job, but I think it’s shown some of the last few games, getting killed on the glass and losing some of those games on the road,” forward Luke Walton said.

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Coach Phil Jackson hasn’t decided whether to fine Brown for his part in last week’s “birthday cake incident,” although he did speak to Brown about it.

Brown’s response, according to Jackson: “What cake?”

“I said, ‘The one that ended up causing you some issues on TV that I happened to see in my hotel room.’ He said, ‘No, it’s all resolved.’ I guess it’s all resolved, no problem, everything’s fine. Now, I don’t know whether that’s factual or not, but that’s Kwame’s [version].”

The Lakers center was accused of ruining a $190 single-layer chocolate cake belonging to a birthday celebrant who was holding it outside a Hermosa Beach club at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 13.

Brown, who was out with a group of teammates for Ronny Turiaf’s birthday, exited the club, took the cake and threw it, hitting the accuser on the back, according to a police report, and Turiaf in the head, according to Turiaf. The Lakers had defeated Orlando at Staples Center a few hours before the incident.

Brown appeared surprised that the incident received so much attention, saying he meant to hit Turiaf. “Why would a cake make national news?” he said. “Especially a cake that you throw at a teammate. That’s all.”

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Jackson said Brown gave the accuser tickets to the Lakers’ game Jan. 15 against Miami. A source said Brown also paid for the accuser’s dinner at the Arena Club at Staples Center.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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