04/25/2007 - 15:46
A Stunning Defeat
Lamar, Kobe and the rest of the Lakers lost in stunning fashion Tuesday night, routed 126-98 by the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of the Western Conference playoffs' opening round.
There was nothing positive to take away from the contest, and after the game, LO (10 points, 10 rebounds) was visibly disheartened as he spoke to the press about the loss.
"Nothing seemed to work. I have no answers for that. It makes no sense. It's kind of sad. I don't know if we're as close as a team as we need to be in terms of camaraderie, but something has to change, and quick."
Nevertheless, Lamar has earned the respect of the media and the Lakers' organization for his effort throughout the latter part of the season and playoffs. The Los Angeles Times detailed his persistence, despite his physical struggles:
The finesse "facilitator" tag has been dropped, thanks to five stitches over the left eyebrow, a torn labrum in the left shoulder and a sore knee that still nags Lamar Odom.
He is more boxer than basketball player these days, sitting in his locker stall with a heating pad on his right knee and a bandage over the two-inch cut over his eyebrow. If there was something to put on his shoulder, he would find it, but there's not, so he grits his teeth and continues to play, one Lakers' plot line that doesn't end with "wasted opportunity" or "lack of effort" so far in the first round.
The franchise has noticed, appreciative of the effort.
"He's played through it exceptionally well," Jackson said. "We've got to give him a tremendous amount of credit for coming back."
The latest reminder of his tenuous shoulder came in the first quarter when Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire blocked his shot, pushing his shoulder back and causing another pained expression. Surgery remains a very real possibility after the season.
The Orange County Register posted a similar analysis of LO's recent play:
Even though Odom hasn't had the dream season that seemed possible early on, it should be noted that he has been pretty tough through a very tough season.
I asked Phil Jackson about that before the game, and Jackson agreed that Odom has made the Lakers proud. After his offseason was marred by the death of his infant son, Odom had a promising season altered by a sprained knee and the labrum tear.
“He has really had an incredible year to have to fight his way through things,” Jackson said.
Lakers Lost in the Valley of the Suns (April 25, 2007, Los Angeles Times)
Odom's Trying, At Least (April 25, 2007, The Orange County Register)
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