Saturday, June 12, 2010

Series tied, Lakers need Odom now

Aching knee of Bynum puts more burden on shaky forward

BOSTON — Was Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom's 19-point, 19-rebound performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals just a random bit of luck, as Phoenix Suns All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire insisted after Odom outplayed him in May?

After watching Boston's Glen “Big Baby” Davis go over, around and through Odom to score nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 96-89 win in Game 4 of the 2010 NBA Finals, even Lakers coach Phil Jackson wondered if Stoudemire's assertion might have been on the money.

Odom has become more of a focal point for the Lakers in a best-of-seven series knotted at 2. With center Andrew Bynum's availability questionable for Sunday's pivotal Game 5 because of ongoing soreness in his right knee, Odom must give the Lakers more than he has through the first four games. For the series he's averaging only 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in slightly more than 25 minutes per game.

Jackson is open to any and all suggestions about getting his 7-0 enigma clicking.

“I was thinking of an electrode,” he said with an evil grin, eliciting laughter from reporters. “Something that would really be a stimulus.”

Odom's unfocused play Thursday and his relatively meek performance throughout the first four games of the season's ultimate series is no joke, and Jackson knows it.

“He looked uncomfortable (in Game 4), and he got a couple double whammies go against him — (Kevin) Garnett out there for a while and then he had Davis coming at him,” Jackson said. “And things kind of snowballed on him.

“We're trying to get him through the offense and into various spots. But he still has a guard role out there, so his responsibility is to actually bring the ball up and initiate the offense.

“That gives us kind of an unusual attack and gets Kobe (Bryant) at the wing, and it's something that, obviously, Boston is quite prepared to try and stop. And the quickness of Davis, who's a rather unusual player in the NBA with his size, I think is affecting Lamar.”

Odom seems reluctant to accept responsibility on his own and says it is up to all of the Lakers to make up for Bynum's injury limitations.

“I'm not going to put it on my shoulders to win or lose the game,” Odom said. “We have to move the ball and become a team, a tighter team.”

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