Odom meter at full speed
BY ROSS SILER, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:10/11/2006
09:54:04 PM PDT
EL SEGUNDO - It was the first exhibition game and the second week of October, but Lakers forward Lamar Odom didn't look like a player who went weeks this summer without picking up a basketball.
Odom led the Lakers with 18points, six assists and fiverebounds in 28 minutes of Tuesday's 94-79 win over Utah in Fresno, a reassuring performance considering he once wondered if he would play this season in the wake of his infant son's death.
For eight minutes at the start of the third quarter, Odom was the best player on the floor. He took Utah's Carlos Boozer off the dribble for two layups, connected on a 3-pointer in transition and set up forward Luke Walton for another 3.
Odom also grabbed four rebounds and pushed the ball the other way after each one. It was no coincidence the Lakers took a 12-point lead in what had been a close game at halftime.
"It was good for me individually to have a game like that to start the season off," Odom said Wednesday, "being aggressive, attacking, things like that."
After the game, Odom said he was "playing with the spirit of two people in me," referring to his son, Jayden. The day before, Odom said he wished training camp would last "four or five more days" for the sake of getting him in shape.
Odom also said the game was a learning experience in how to play without Kobe Bryant, who is recovering from knee surgery. The only blemish on his night came in missing three free throws in the fourth quarter as he tired.
Even with the tragedy in his life, Odom has retained his sense of humor. With Kwame Brown teasing him as he answered questions Wednesday, Odom declared that Brown could lead the team in rebounding.
The laughter grew as Odom adjusted those expectations upward.
"He can lead the league if he really wanted to," Odom said.
"That dude right there steals so many rebounds," Brown fired back.
"Now it's almost like, `Just box out and let him get it."'
The lowlight for teenage center Andrew Bynum came in the third quarter Tuesday as he showed off a great spin move only to come up short on a point-blank shot at the rim.
Bynum was so upset he smacked himself in the head a couple of times, to everyone's surprise.
Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis said: "I told him at the timeout, `Andrew, I was going to chew you out for not using your left hand but I saw that you already beat yourself up, so I let it go."'
Rookie guard Jordan Farmar was so excited to play that he got up and went to check in when Ronny Turiaf's name was called in the third quarter. Farmar had to save face and sit down as quickly as possible, squeezing in next to assistant Brian Shaw.
Farmar did play the last 4:19 and gave the Lakers a jolt of energy, finishing with three points and two steals.
The coaches have taken to counting the number of times Farmar gets his hands on the ball in practice. His record so far is seven, which counts deflections and steals. Farmar is committed to moving his hands as much as he moves his feet on defense.
Jackson sighting - almost:
Lakers coach Phil Jackson watched gamefilm and stayed for all of practice, but left before reporters were allowed in the gym.