Phil Jackson singles out Lamar Odom for poor play
It's usually been expected that road playoff games lead Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to tighten his rotation even more, knowing that victories bode more importance than restful bodies and road environments tend to play against the bench's favor. Yet, with the Lakers' inside game mostly neutralized and their perimeter shooting leaving lots to be desired in their 95-92 Game 2 victory Tuesday over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jackson plans to give more minutes to his reserves. And with that comes an added responsibility, which Jackson mostly directed toward Lakers forward Lamar Odom.In the Lakers' two playoff games, Odom has averaged only 5.5 points on 30% shooting as well as seven rebounds per game, far below the 10.8 points on 46.3% shooting along with 9.8 boards he averaged in the regular season. I cited those statistics as a point of reference, but they are a tad misleading considering Game 1 featured Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol running the show inside and Game 2 featured Kobe Bryant leading the team late in the game. Yet, Odom's two-of-nine clip in Game 2 shows he looked to be a part of the offense, but he didn't have the good looks like he normally does. It's also good to keep in mind that Odom averaged 9.5 points per game as a reserve and 12.2 points as a starter, a role he played for the last 13 games of the season because of Bynum's strained left Achilles' tendon.
Odom in years past has often carried the reputation of displaying both brilliant and hair-pulling performances, with his California-cool vibe fueling the notion that he doesn't care and plays with complacency. That couldn't be further from the truth this season, what with L.O. fighting through pain for two months with an injured left shoulder, loudly voicing his frustrations with the team's attitude in March and playing pretty consistently. He's cracked double figures in 44 games, grabbed at least 10 boards in 41 contests and scored at least 20 points in six of those games. Odom also has appeared in four of the five Lakers' regular-season lineups that boast the highest plus-minus ratings -- a statistic Odom holds in high regard because it equates his value on the floor and his versatility.
Though his plus-minus rating currently stands at (-)1 in the postseason, Odom says he's not worried about those performances because that snapshot only reflects two games. Odom also appears to agree with Jackson on what he needs to do to what he called leaving an "imprint on the ballgame." Here's what both Jackson and Odom said when I asked them how he could do that.
"It's an understanding what the game is," Jackson said. "Opportunities are going to be in shots and little things like that. Probably pockets he finds in penetration ... as well as the ball movement he can create in penetration."
"I just want to get myself going offensively and find my shot," Odom said. "Play in my rhythm, play in my space and my comfort zone.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom fouls Thunder forward Serge Ibaka as he shoots between Odom and guard Kobe Bryant during Game 2 on Tuesday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.