SAN ANTONIO — Forward Lamar Odom was back in the Lakers' lineup, though not without some good-natured banter.
"You playing tonight, Lamar?" Derek Fisher asked with a puzzled look as they walked past each other in the locker room before Thursday's game against San Antonio.
Then a reporter jokingly re-introduced himself to Odom.
"I haven't been away that long," Odom said.
Gone but not forgotten, Odom was back from a league-imposed one-game exile for leaving the bench when an altercation broke out in Monday's game against Portland.
His return helped the Lakers outrebound San Antonio, 42-33, on the way to a 102-95 road victory that ranked among their best of the season, a notch or two below those in Boston and Cleveland.
He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes Thursday.
On one third-quarter play, he kept alive a rebound by punching it against the backboard, then corralling it and feeding Pau Gasol underneath for an easy layup.
Late in the game, with the Lakers holding a three-point lead, he fed Gasol again on a play that led to a reverse layup.
A few seconds later, he tied up Spurs forward Tim Duncan down low, forcing a jump ball with 1:13 to play that he tapped to Sasha Vujacic.
Not bad after a night off that cost him $104,000 in salary.
Odom was his own worst critic after the Lakers' victory over the Spurs, as is sometimes the case.
"I feel like I could play better," he said. "I was forcing it a little bit. I probably took two bad shots."
Odom watched the Lakers' 102-96 victory over Houston from the team hotel. One thing stood out -- the one-on-one clash between Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant.
"It was fun watching one of my childhood friends, Ron, and Kobe kind of go at it a little bit," said Odom, who acknowledged being a "little bit" surprised that Artest employed a trash-talking strategy.
"Kobe's one of those players I wouldn't really want to get going," Odom said. "I guess that was the challenge Ron accepted. He knew what he was doing. He knew what was going to happen."
Center Andrew Bynum began running on a treadmill Tuesday, taking the next step in his return from a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
He felt no negative effects from the running, according to a Lakers spokesman.
He will gradually increase the length of his workouts on the treadmill after being limited to exercising on a stationary bike and an elliptical machine before this week.
It was still not known when he would return. The Lakers said Thursday they wouldn't change the original timetable for his return, sometime between late March and late April, though Lakers Coach Phil Jackson indicated earlier this week that it would be sometime in April.
Bynum, averaging 14 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, has missed 19 games because of the injury. The Lakers are 15-4 in his absence.