11/03/2009 - 11:13
Bring on the Thunder
The Los Angeles Lakers begin a two-game road swing tonight, and Lamar Odom is expected to start both games while Pau Gasol continues to recover from a hamstring tear.
Los Angeles is in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder for the first time this season. The Lakers swept the season series against the Thunder on their way to the NBA Championship last year, winning all three games, including two on the road.
In the process, the Lakers' defense held Oklahoma City under 100 points in each game.
LO was his typical self in the first game of last year’s season series, dropping in his 18th double-double of the season by scoring 12 points and grabbing 18 boards.
For the season against the Thunder, No. 7 averaged a double double with 12.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. The Package also shot 50% from behind the arc against Oklahoma City in 2008-2009, hitting on 4-8 attempts.
THE FULL PACKAGE
Every facet of LO’s improved game has been gaining notice this season.
Kevin Ding, of the Orange County Register, noted two particular sequences in Sunday’s game against the Hawks that showed what type of impact Lamar makes on each game.
He made all the little plays where he beat everyone to the ball or was there to change a shot near the rim or roared at teammate DJ Mbenga to find some aggression (and then came back a moment later to slap hands with Mbenga and show the roar had come out of love).
Even though Odom marveled after the victory about Ron Artest’s defense and Kobe Bryant’s offense, it was Odom who made a million things happen despite taking just eight shots.
Kurt Helin of Forum Blue and Gold posted a similar sentiment:
One other thing we need to note about the start of the season (something that has come up in the comments): Lamar Odom has played with a newfound confidence so far. He is handling the ball a lot more in initiating the offense, and with that his assists are way up: Last season he average 3.2 assists per 36 minutes on the court, this season he is at 6.1 per 36, nearly doubled. (To be fair, his turnovers are up from 2.1 to 3.7 per 36.) But more than just numbers, you see it in his game, he looks more comfortable. He doesn’t fear the jump shot and is shooting 44% from the midrange (most of his shots still come at the rim or from beyond the arc). He had an off game against Dallas, the entire team did, but he has been different early on.
The Package attributes a good deal of his recent success to maturity.
“It’s age,” Odom said. “I just feel a little tougher mentally … like I can get through it.”
Much has been made about Ron Artest coming to the Lakers in the off-season, and how it might affect the chemistry of the defending champs. But Artest has his old friend from Queens, Lamar, to help group him.
When Artest joined the team, the duo made sure their lockers were adjacent to each other. Now that they are neighbors, the two have been sharing habits.
“Ron-Ron got me into eating oranges,” Lamar told the Orange County Register. “It’s funny, because we started to get it goin’ (against Atlanta) and we looked up and we’re up by like 20 … and he said to me, ‘How about those oranges?’
“I just started laughing. You never know what to expect from my man.”
LO and the Lakers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at 5:00 p.m. PST. The game can be seen in So-Cal on KCAL.
Lakers’ Pau Gasol may have slight hamstring tear (Los Angeles Times, Nov. 3, 2009)
Phil’s finger-tip control of Lakers is remarkable (OC Register, Nov. 2, 2009)
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