Archive for the 'Lamar Odom' Category

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Nov. 15 Injury Update: Odom, Ratliff & Blake

blog_101115odomratliff_updates500UCLA Health SystemWith a Tuesday-Wednesday back-to-back against the Bucks and Pistons on the horizon, the Lakers had some injury questions as Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff underwent respective MRI’s on Monday morning, and Steve Blake had missed Sunday evening’s loss against Phoenix with a stomach virus.

L.A. got good news relating to Odom, as the MRI on a sore right foot came back negative. The MRI did confirm what Phil Jackson had previously described as a “bone bruise,” but the lanky lefty can play on it and will stay in the starting lineup against Milwaukee.

Blake is also expected to play in Wisconsin, as he was feeling better and did make the trip with the team.

The news is not so good in Ratliff’s case, however, as the 37-year-old center will have arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday morning in hopes of discerning the problem with his sore left knee. Lakers spokesman John Black said that the team would provide an update after the surgery.

***UPDATE: Ratliff had successful surgery and will miss at least 4-6 weeks. You can find the details by clicking here.

Lamar’s On Fire

101105lamarodomJudging from Lamar Odom’s outstanding all-around preseason after his performance for Team USA at the World Championships, it’s not much of a surprise that he’s been very effective during L.A.’s 5-0 stretch to start the regular season.

But 70 percent from the field? Or 80 percent from three-point range?

That’s aggressive.

Nonetheless, Odom has converted 35 of his 50 field goal attempts, including eight of his 10 three-pointers, to lead the NBA in field goal percentage. He’s averaging 16.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists along with 1.0 steals per game.

Toronto Raptors Coach Jay Triano was an assistant on Team USA’s gold-medal winning squad, and his praise for Odom couldn’t have been much higher.

“I thought Kevin Durant was absolutely fantastic over there, but I thought Lamar Odom was the guy that was the reason the team was successful,” said Triano. “He was the glue, he was the veteran, he was the guy that had won a championship before and he was the guy who was the anchor at the defensive end and it was the defense that won the whole thing for us.

“He’s just very valuable, a good teammate and I was really impressed with him as a person and as a basketball player.”

The last player to shoot 70 percent from the field through the first five games of an NBA season, with a minimum of 50 attempts, was Charles Barkley. Sir Charles converted 43-of-60 (.716) during the 1991-92 season in Philadelphia. The only other Laker to ever start so hot was Wilt Chamberlain, who made 49-of-70 shots across the first five games of the 1968-69 season.

Odom is a career 46.5 percent shooter, 31.8 percent from three, with his best season from the field coming in 2007-08 (52.5 percent).

From Queens, With Love

62208842Eighteen years ago, two 12-year-old kids from Queens, New York, met for the first time, paired on the same basketball team due to their already-advanced talents.

Back then, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest could only dream to one day, somehow, be standing side by side as NBA Champions. But that, of course, is exactly what happened on Tuesday evening at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

Among the most poignant moments during a pregame ring ceremony in which each of the nine returning Lakers from the 2010 championship team took turns introducing one another was when Odom gave Artest his ring.

Here’s how Odom put it:

I usually get nervous when I have to talk in front of people, but tonight I feel like I’m at home. It helps, because the next person I’m about to bring out I’ve known since I was 12 years old. When we were 12 years old, he was really quiet, and now he takes his clothes off on Jimmy Kimmel and he raps. But there’s nobody like him. I can’t say enough about him. We come from the same family tree in New York City of basketball, and I just want him to know that his family is proud of him. The one and only, Ron Artest.

Odom Adds World Championship to NBA Rings

61613517As he did throughout the playoffs in consecutive title-winning years for the Lakers, Lamar Odom performed at his best when his team needed it most, this time for Team USA at Sunday’s World Championship final against Turkey.

Odom went for a double-double for the second straight game, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds in the 81-64 gold-medal-deciding game against the Turks, playing in front of a frenzied home crowd in Istanbul.

All 15 of Odom’s points and eight of his rebounds came in the second half, and he scored nine of his team’s first 13 points to open the fourth quarter, helping to keep Turkey from getting back into the contest.

This after a 13-point, 10-rebound, 3-block, 2-assist performance in Team USA’s 89-74 semifinal win over Lithuania on Saturday, and all while playing out of his natural position at center throughout an unblemished tournament for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s bunch.

“This team had a lot of character and poise,” Odom told the Associated Press. “A lot of people thought we were undersized and we didn’t have a center, we didn’t have too many big guys. People thought we were going to get killed on the inside, but we played tough, hung in there, and stayed strong, focused.”

The Americans may not have won their first World Championship trophy since 1994 without Odom’s all-around play, or, particularly, without a terrific tournament from tournament MVP Kevin Durant. The Thunder forward buried seven three-pointers against Turkey en route to 28 points, and set a USA scoring record for the tourney.

His Oklahoma City teammate Russell Westbrook added 13 points off the bench, while Bulls point guard Derrick Rose chipped in eight points and a game-high six assists.

Hedo Turkoglu, moving from the Raptors to the Suns this coming season, led Turkey with 16 points, but the Turks managed to shoot just 36.4 percent against a swarming American defense.

So, starting in June of 2009, Odom won his first NBA title when the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic. Then this past June came No. 2, an even sweeter victory against the Boston Celtics. And now a World Championship gold medal.

Not a bad two years for the lanky lefty.

Odom Helps USA to World Semi’s

61538563“(Lamar Odom) absolutely, quietly tonight has been rock solid at both ends … the hero (of the game) for me.”
- Color commentator Fran Fraschilla

Lamar Odom’s all-around effort in Team USA’s 89-79 quarterfinal win over Russia at basketball’s 2010 World Championships in Turkey was something Lakers fans have seen before.

On Thursday evening in Istanbul, the lanky lefty did a little bit of everything to help lead a second half charge that put the Americans into Saturday’s semifinals against Lithuania.

Seven of Odom’s game-high 12 rebounds (five offensive) came in that second half, when the U.S. turned a five-point lead halfway through the period into a 70-56 margin entering the fourth quarter.

Odom added two steals and six points to his box score line in 30 minutes of work, but much of his production came outside the stat sheet. He was effective in limiting Russia’s 7-1 center Timofey Mozgov (who will play for the Knicks), rotated fiercely off the ball (as he did in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals) to help teammates, turned many of his defensive boards into transition opportunities at the other end and simply filled in any gaps that were needed.

Just like he does for the Lakers.

Odom was able to focus on such things thanks in part to Kevin Durant, taking on Kobe Bryant’s role on the Lakers (and his own on the Thunder) by scoring 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Odom’s co-veteran leader Chauncey Billups added 15 points and five assists, while Russell Westbrook was the key spark plug off the bench, scoring 12 points – 10 in that critical third quarter – with three steals.

When Odom plays his best basketball, the Lakers almost never lose, and through the quarterfinals of the World Championships, the same seems to be the case for Team USA.

If Odom and his teammates can put forth the same effort for two more games, they’ll be in prime position to bring back their country’s first title since 1994.

USA, Odom Coast to Win over Iran

61462874Since Lamar Odom can count Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and now Theo Ratliff as teammates in Los Angeles, it’s not too often that he will have to guard a 7-2 center in the NBA.

But a game after containing Brazil and San Antonio’s Tiago Splitter, Odom spent the majority of his 16 minutes checking Iranian giant Hamed Haddadi, a backup big man for the Memphis Grizzlies, in a breezy 88-51 USA win.

Odom is, after all, the starting center for the smallish Team USA, which improved to 4-0 in group play in the American’s first ever meeting with Iran.

Content to defend Iran’s pick and roll sets that featured Haddadi, pick up the first Iranian NBA player far away from the hoop to disrupt court position and stay locked down on isolations, Odom didn’t even attempt a shot until halfway through the third quarter. He spent most of his time on offense setting picks on or off the ball for scorers Kevin Durant (12 points) and Derrick Rose (11), deferring from the scoring role that Lakers coach Phil Jackson occasionally demands from Odom off L.A.’s bench.

Odom’s first and only bucket came with 4:34 to play in the third quarter on a driving lefty layup, and he left the contest for good with his American squad up 59-34 late in the period. This was no accident, as Odom trailed only Kevin Durant in minutes played (37-30) in the previous 70-68 win over Brazil.

As soon as Odom went to the bench, however, Haddadi became much more aggressive on offense, attempting 10 shots in the fourth quarter (making three) to score nine of his 19 points.

While Haddadi averaged only 6.7 minutes per game last season for the Grizz, Odom has shown the ability to play effective, physical defense for the Lakers against bigger or taller players.

You can rewind back to L.A.’s psychologically important 2008-09 regular season win in Boston – their first trip to the Garden since the blowout 2008 Game 6 Finals loss – for a turning point of sorts. Odom, after exchanging blows with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins en route to 20 points with six boards, three assists, two steals and some rugged defense, had this to say:

“I’m not the strongest guy in the league … But I’m far from the weakest.”

With his play for the USA, Odom has shown that statement to be true internationally as well.

He and his American teammates have now won group B, locking up the top seed in the knockout round, and will meet the fourth-place team in Group A in the round of 16 after a final (yet meaningless) group game against Tunisia on Thursday.

USA Beats Brazil, Improves to 3-0 at Worlds

61449285On Sunday afternoon in Istanbul, Turkey, Lamar Odom scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Team USA secure a narrow 70-68 victory, improving the American’s record to 3-0 at the World Championships.

Starting at center for the third consecutive game despite generally playing power forward for the Lakers, Odom played 30 of the 40 minutes for USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, second only to Kevin Durant’s 37 minutes. Odom, who has guarded NBA centers at times but rarely has to for Phil Jackson, spent much of his time banging bodies with Brazil’s 6-11 center, Tiago Splitter.

Splitter, who will play alongside Tim Duncan in San Antonio next season, was widely considered to be the best big man in Europe for the past few years. He managed a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double against the U.S., but saw limited action in the fourth quarter after Odom drew the Brazilian’s fourth foul on a charge late in the third period.

61449503Krzyzewski and his squad were afforded the benefit of Odom’s ball-handling* and passing abilities at a position usually lacking such skills, thanks to his ability to simultaneously contain Brazil’s biggest low post threat. As such, more traditional center Tyson Chandler was needed for only five minutes, the same number played by backup power forward Kevin Love.
*Odom did have four turnovers, however.

Leading the team on the offensive end was Durant, who netted 27 points on 18 shots, canning four three-pointers as well as leading the team with 10 boards in 37 minutes.

Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups – who join Durant, Odom and Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup – combined for 26 points in the U.S. back court, but the bench contributed only six points on the evening.

Team USA shot just 41.8 percent from the field, but went to the foul line 23 times compared to Brazil’s eight, signifying the American’s ability to get into the paint. Brazil, on the other hand, attempted 28 threes (0.7 per minute), and while early success from distance helped the South Americans build a lead, the well dried up late.

Up next for Odom and Co. is a Wednesday afternoon contest against Iran, followed by Thursday’s game against Tunisia to conclude group play. Should the U.S. continue their winning ways against the two weakest teams in their group, they’ll shore up the top seed in Group B heading into the next round of action.

Odom Assists USA in Win over Spain

61368356With 7:42 left in the second quarter of Team USA’s Sunday exhibition game against Spain in Madrid, the Spaniards had begun to come back from an explosive Team USA start.

With an early 16-point lead trimmed to eight due thanks to the play of Ricky Rubio, a draftee of Kurt Rambis’ Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBATV cameras picked up a shot of Lamar Odom gesturing demonstrably with his hands. L.A.’s forward continuously brought his thumbs to meet fingers in the form of a clamp, signifying to the Americans that they must communicate better after Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose failed to rotate into the paint when Chauncey Billups was beaten off the dribble.

Improve, they would.

On the next possession, Durant did well to close out on a perimeter shot, and Odom sealed the rebound with two hands. Then Odom took three big steps up the court with ball in hand to start the break, finding Billups on the right wing before cutting to the hoop. Billups rewarded Odom’s continued sprint to the basket with a pretty pass, resulting in a two-handed dunk.

61368260Odom kept going, gathering another defensive board, and just missing an offensive rebound at the other end before the ball went out of bounds. The two younger NBAers Odom had encouraged to communicate moments earlier then made consecutively excellent defensive plays to force Spanish turnovers, and after the second, Durant fed Odom for a lefty layup, plus the harm. L.O. missed the freebie, but he made up for it with a swat on defense. Billups capitalized with a layup, and team USA was back up by 14.

Odom’s line in that two-minute stretch: four points, three rebounds, one block and lots of talking.

The lanky lefty’s influence was apparent in the second half, as well. He was on the bench during Spain’s biggest run, during which Rubio and Marc Gasol helped cut the USA lead down to just two points. Yet by the end of the quarter, Odom helped the Americans build the lead back to 11, capped by a transition layup from Odom at the buzzer that made it 69-58.

In a more closely played final period, Odom made a key layup with 4:30 remaining, then made up for air-balling a potential tie-breaking corner three by clearing his ninth rebound* and starting a break which led to Rose’s slick driving layup with 32 seconds left.
*Odom added 12 points.

Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro responded with a critical driving layup plus the foul to put Spain up 85-84 with 27 seconds to play, but Rose put the USA back up a point by converting two free throws. The game-clinching play came on defense, as Durant rose to swat a Rudy Fernandez jumper as time expired.

Both Durant and Rose were terrific particularly after Odom’s key second quarter stanza; fitting it was that the two would combine with Odom to secure victory for Team USA.

Lamar Odom: Team USA Update

61292324Forward Lamar Odom has been wearing a different colored jersey for the past month or so, trading in Lakers purple and gold for the red, white and blue of Team USA.

Having essentially locked up a spot on the roster as well as in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s rotation, Odom played a total of 32 minutes in last weekend’s scrimmage against China and exhibition game against France.

He totaled nine points, eight boards, two assists, two steals and two turnovers on 4-of-5 shooting, playing well against France (eight points on put-backs) but showing little in 14 minutes against China (one point, one rebound).

To go over Odom’s play thus far and to look ahead at three coming exhibitions (Lithuania, Spain and Greece) as well as the World Championships, we dialed up’s John Schuhmann, who’s been covering the team throughout.

Click below to listen to what Schuhmann had to offer about Odom and Team USA:

Odom Addresses Spanish Media

61336096In about six weeks, Lamar Odom will fly to Spain with his Lakers teammates in advance of a preseason tilt against F.C. Barcelona.

And while Odom has heard all about Barcelona from teammate Pau Gasol, L.O.’s currently getting a taste of Spain’s capital city, Madrid, with the US National Team.

On Wednesday, the NBA provided audio from a press conference Odom held in Madrid, where the US squad awaits exhibition games that include a matchup with the Spanish team.

Here’s a summary of what Odom had to offer:

On Spain playing without Pau Gasol: (They’re) still a great team. They’re so deep. Of course any team that doesn’t have Pau will miss him – I should know, right? But they’re still a really good team, really competitive.

On if Pau would offer any tips about playing Spain: I don’t think Pau will give me any information. Maybe on every NBA team, but not this team.

On his personal outlook: Just to play my game, to be aggressive. Look to make plays. Look to be a leader.

On his biggest concern about Spanish team: Honestly, you’re never concerned about competition, because competition is fun and that’s what we live for. Honestly they’re a great team, they do so many things well, but we look forward to the confrontation. We look forward to the competitiveness. It’s still fun … it’s just a game. It’s basketball, it’s what we love to do.

On Spain playing at home: This is their home court. I’d imagine that they’re going to have home court advantage, but playing on the road is something we’re all used to doing. It’s just going to be a tough game. Both teams are very prideful, and we can’t wait to play against them.