Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar hope to build off recent success
Lakers forward Lamar Odom and his patience had reached a tipping point. And that's saying a lot given his California-cool vibe.
The meltdown happened nearly a month ago -- specifically, Dec. 20 -- when the Lakers' bench allowed a 21-point lead against the Detroit Pistons to evaporate to within eight points in the fourth quarter. Odom felt embarrassed that instead of Kobe Bryant and company enjoying some well-earned rest, they needed to return to secure the victory.
But with the Lakers visiting San Antonio tonight, Odom took a different tone after practice Monday when he was discussing the Lakers' reserves -- specifically backup guards Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar.
"They're making strides in the right direction," Odom said. "They're extremely hard workers. They push us in practice everyday. I think you're going to see more of those guys during the year."
That's because of the performances they put together lately. In the Lakers' 95-77 victory over the Bucks, Brown led the team with 19 points on eight of 19 shooting, just two games after replacing a struggling Derek Fisher against the Clippers and posting 15 points. Brown made acrobatic dunks, had consecutive blocks and even made a half-court heave as the third quarter ended.
Meanwhile, Farmar scored 17 points, a week after notching a career-high 24 points in a 131-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which featured the bench scoring a season-high 66 points.
"I definitely think we’ve all developed," Farmar said. "It’s just about having an opportunity to be successful. Make plays and make reads and be actually part of the game. It’s the only way you can have an opportunity to contribute."
Yet, there's a reason Coach Phil Jackson is taking a wait-and-see approach on a unit that boasts limited production from Sasha Vujacic, Adam Morrison and DJ Mbenga and is without Luke Walton (pinched nerve).
Even if it was the Pistons game that had made Odom upset, there have been other incidents that made that specific blown opportunity not really distinguishable.
There was a four-game stretch from to mid to late November when the reserves were outscored in every fourth quarter. There was the Christmas Day 102-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, with a 13-13 tie ballooning to a 19-point deficit before Jackson yanked his reserves late in the second quarter. And there was the 118-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns three days later in a game that featured the reserves being outscored, 52-31.
Before last week's Dallas game, the Lakers' reserves were 27th in points per game (24.8) and 29th in opposing bench points (34.8) Meanwhile, the Lakers are looking at the Spurs' bench as a model to follow. Their unit -- led by guard Manu Ginobili -- lead the league in average points (42.6), rebounds (18.1) and assists (10).
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Shannon Brown celebrates with teammates Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom after hitting a half-court shot to end the third quarter Sunday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times