While Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant received much of the credit for the Lakers’ march to the top of the Western Conference down the stretch of the season, Lamar Odom has quietly been playing the best basketball of his career. With another double-double performance (17 points, 14 rebounds) in Game 1 against the Nuggets, Odom’s teammates and coaches are taking notice of his exceptional all-around play.
“Lamar has certainly proved his value to this team in many ways,” said Coach Jackson. “I just think that it’s given him much more of a comfort zone. Lamar’s an exceptional passer. A lot of passes come in critical, close quarters lane area-type drop-off situations and with Pau’s capabilities, it’s just improved his assist ratio, his ability to make plays. All those things have helped Lamar.”
Even though his role on offense has been reduced to third option on most nights, Jackson said that Odom fills his niche well.
“I don’t think Lamar wants any more shots,” said Jackson. “I think Lamar is perfectly comfortable taking eight to 10, maybe 12 shots in a ball game. I don’t think he feels he needs to shoot the ball and when he does take it, he stays within the context of what he wants to do.”
Odom’s newest teammate Pau Gasol–credited with reducing the pressure on Lamar to score–says that the forward’s outstanding play extends beyond the offensive side of the game.
“He’s motivated,” said Gasol. “He goes into games with a great attitude and great activity. He’s very active with the ball, without the ball, on the boards, defending. I think he’s stepping up and taking a big role defensively. I think all around, this situation, the same with everyone else, is an opportunity to accomplish something great and that’s why we’re all so focused and in tune to what we’re doing”