AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Meanwhile, back in El Segundo . . .
While the Lakers were ending their seven-year problem Thursday with a road victory against Detroit, injured center Andrew Bynum was missing his 25th game because of a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
Bynum has moved beyond running on a treadmill at the team's training facility, but he isn't expected back until close to the start of the playoffs next month.
"He's running on the court, he's doing some basketball skills," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Thursday.
"He has a considerable amount of time yet before he's going to be even at practice with us."
Somewhat surprisingly, the Lakers are scoring almost as many points without Bynum and have a nearly identical winning percentage.
With him, they were 37-9 (.804) and averaged 108.3 points. Without him, they're 20-5 (.800) and averaging 107.3 points. "We're more fluid as an offensive team without Andrew," Jackson said. "Obviously, with two seven-footers, you don't run as well, you don't have as quick a fastbreak or as consistent a flow game, which the NBA is really suited for.
"It gives us an opportunity to play Lamar Odom considerable minutes. He's a terrific player, gives us a whole different cast of how we play. That releases Kobe [Bryant] to play a forward position, a striker position, and he's much more aggressive at that spot."
On the other hand, the Lakers are giving up 100.8 points a game without Bynum, a step back from the 99.6 points they gave up with him in the lineup.
Jackson said the Lakers were a better rebounding team with Bynum and had a shot blocker that was a "considerable talent back there" when he was in the lineup.
"There's a lot of things he gives us that we don't have right now," Jackson said.
How will Jackson use Bynum when he returns?
"We'll just have to see how he comes back," Jackson said. "Is he going to be in condition where he can play 25, 30 minutes or is it going to be a start where he's going to be playing 12, 14 minutes a game and then increase it that way? We'll see how he fits in."
Blast from the past
Former Lakers center Kwame Brown, who posted a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the Pistons' victory over the Lakers earlier this season at Staples Center, wasn't as effective Thursday.
He had four points and eight rebounds as the Lakers ended a seven-year drought at Detroit.
"Kwame was somebody that was in our organization that we really worked hard with," Jackson said. "He never found his rhythm with the Lakers as a fan favorite or a player that really got himself going there. But we liked him as a person on our team and he gave us a good effort."
What really was the problem?
"We always thought Kwame had more that he could do that didn't come out in games," Jackson said. "He could do a lot of things in practice, he could do a lot of things on the court, but in game situations it wasn't as comfortable for him."
Brown started in place of injured Detroit center Rasheed Wallace.