02/13/2012 - 11:26
LO at His Best
If this weekend is any indication, Lamar Odom has found his Sixth Man of the Year groove.
LO was an X-factor for the Mavericks on Saturday night, contributing 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting and grabbing five rebounds in 23 solid minutes off the bench as Dallas defeated the Portland Trail-Blazers, 97-94, in a double overtime thriller.
Lamar came off the bench to spark the Mavericks on Saturday, while giving Dirk the break he'd need to play 2 OT (Getty Images).
In fact, his performance was strong enough to warrant a specific mention from head coach Rick Carlisle in the Mavs' post-game press conference.
"I thought Lamar Odom played one of his best games of the year tonight," said Carlisle in praise of No. 7's balanced performance. "He had great energy. He was attacking. He was into the game."
When veteran Dirk Nowitzki struggled early in the third quarter, Carlisle turned to his sixth man, and Lamar stepped up big time.
"When Dirk had some struggles early in the third, we went to Lamar," he said. "He made a couple big plays, hit a three -- it was stuff that kept us going during a tough spot."
Five of LO's 10 points came at a critical point in the third quarter -- the tough spot to which Carlisle referred -- when the Trailblazers shrunk the Dallas lead to eight at 50-42 with 6:52 remaining. LO and Jason Terry followed with back-to-back treys to bolster the Mavs' lead back up to 14. His contibutions also allowed Nowitzki to get an extended break, one he would need as the game went to two overtimes before resulting in a Dallas victory..
"I think right now it's important for me to play well and give the big fella a little bit of a break without us falling off too much. And when I say the big fella, I mean Dirk," said Lamar of his role in the Mavericks' lineup. "He deserves a rest and deserves to be able to come out of the game and for the team not too fall off too much."
Behind No. 7's strong play -- namely his 3-for-3 shooting from the field in the second half -- the Mavericks held on while Dirk took a breather.
The win was the second of the weekend for the Mavs, who also took out the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-97 on Friday night in Minneapolis.
LO played just 13 minutes in the victory, but made his chances stand up, with six points on 3-of-8 shooting, two rebounds, an assist and a block.
He followed that up with Saturday's 10-point performance, which also marked the first time that LO had posted double figures in scoring since he scored a season-high 19 against the Utah Jazz on January 27.
In the meantime, Lamar has been hard at work in the gym honing some technical aspects of his game to improve his consistency on the hardwood.
"My body is getting back to where it needs to be," No. 7 said when asked about his improvement from the outset of the season. "I feel a lot more comfortable and confident making moves. And not just making a move, but coming up out of the move, making a move or two and getting out of it and being explosive, being able to share the ball and make the right basketball play."
Some of that confidence can be attributed to the unwavering support that Carlisle has given LO as he has tried to adjust over the past few months, even designing a mini-boot camp for the newest Maverick to bring him up to speed with the uptempo style of offense the squad runs.
"He's got a better feel for what we're doing,'' Carlisle said. "The system he was in was completely diametrically opposite of what we do, so there was an adjustment area. He's come a long way there and our guys, I think, have come a long ways in terms of knowing how he plays within what we do. He's gotten gradually better and he's a key guy for us."
Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki has echoed those sentiments often this season and said he knows that when the Mavericks need that something extra late in the season and in the playoffs, they're going to be able to turn to Lamar.
"LO is going to keep on getting better. I really believe he's going to be big for us coming down the stretch," Nowitzki said. "I just feel his versatility down the stretch can really help us win games - his defense, his rebounding, his ability to basically post anybody up and make a play down there for himself or for other guys. I really feel like he's going to be an important piece for us down the stretch."
It's back to the grind on Monday night for Lamar and the Mavericks, who begin the week with a two-game homestand against the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
The Clippers stole a heartbreaker at the buzzer from the Mavs last month in LA during Dallas' West Coast road trip -- a loss the Mavs look to avenge tonight. The Clippers, coincidentally, have not won a game in Dallas in five years. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM on Fox Sports Southwest.
- 3-pointer: Lamar Odom gets call-out from coach (ESPN Dallas / Fort Worth, Feb. 12, 2012)
- Portland Trailblazers @ Dallas Mavericks Post Game 28 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Feb. 12, 2012)
- Portland Trailblazers @ Dallas Mavericks Box Score (NBA.com, Feb. 13, 2012)
- Odom slowly fitting in with the Mavs (Star-Telegram, Feb. 10, 2012)
- Dirk Nowitzki feels Lamar Odom will be 'important piece' down stretch (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 8, 2012)