03/07/2011 - 15:49
Lakers Streak Hits LO's Number
Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Lakers made their statement on Sunday afternoon and around the league it was heard loud and clear.
The Lakers went into San Antonio on Sunday and demolished the league-leading Spurs, the team most primed to wrestle away LA's crown, 99-83. Lamar pitched in 15 points, four rebounds and a game-high six assists in the victory, which extended Los Angeles' winning streak to seven games.
Before the meeting, Lamar told ABC that while he knew how good the Spurs were, this game was no different than any of the other 81 NBA regular-season games. His mindset was and always will be to win.
“It's pretty easy to stay motivated, especially when you are being attacked by other teams," LO said. "We always want to play our best ball. If we could, we would go 82-0. We strive to be perfect to be the best team, not just to be better than one team or two teams in the West or two teams in the East. We strive to be better than every team in the NBA and that’s what keeps us motivated.”
It was apparent from the outset that the Lakers’ brought a little something extra to their matchup with the Spurs. Their continued focus on defense paid off and LA limited San Antonio to just 13 first quarter points. According to Lamar, it's not about who the Lakers are playing, because they're capable of locking down everybody. They proved that on Sunday.
"No matter who we're playing against — teams at the top, teams at the bottom — we're just going to go out there and play our 'A' game, play D (defense), talk .... and walk away with the win," he said."We're going to go out there and just compete at a high level (and) have fun."
LA already had a six-point lead by the time Lamar entered the game with five minutes to play in the first. That promptly was extended to nine as LO dropped his first shot of the game, a 24-foot three-pointer. That smooth trey prompted commentary from ABC’s broadcasting duo of Mike Breen and Mark Jackson about the improved LO:
Breen: Odom's jump shot; so consistent this year.
Jackson: He's been so consistent this year, not just as a jump shooter but you talk about guys having an impact off your bench, he is the ultimate.
Breen: He’s having one of his best all-around seasons.
Sunday was an all-around strong game for Lamar. Immediately after the three, he found passing lanes open and closed out the first with assists to Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
No. 7 started the second with two more assists, again getting it to Gasol and then Matt Barnes moments later. With three minutes left in the half, Lamar found Bryant for his fifth assist of the game. Kobe’s basket put the Lakers up 26 points, an astounding early lead. Los Angeles was able to cruise for the remainder of the game, winning 99-83, though that score didn't do justice to the thoroughness of the victory.
"It's still a game at the end of the day," No. 7 told Fox Sports West. "When everyone gets involved and we're talking and communicating, offensively and defensively, that's what it turns into."
In addition to his offensive contributions, LO also played the type of defense the Lakers needed on Spurs sharpshooter Matt Bonner. It was exactly what C.A. Clark of Silver Screen and Roll had requested:
"For Lamar Odom, I have but one simple request. Make Matt Bonner think he got a Lamar Odom tattoo over the weekend. Don't even bother with offense. Go where Bonner goes, even if the Lakers have the ball. Do not give him a single ounce of space, because, at this point, I feel like Matt Bonner could drop the ball behind his head, kick it with his back heel, and it would still go in the basket for three points."
But Lamar didn't need to give up on the offense. He held Bonner to just 1-of-5 from the field and still finished with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. After the big win, LO was succinct in his explanation of LA's sudden post All-Star break surge, as quoted by the OC Register:
"Now is the time to win and seize the moment." he said.
NOT THIS TIME, CHARLOTTE
The Sunday victory followed a vengeful win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
Much like he was Sunday, LO was in a generous mood against the Bobcats, leading LA in assists en route to a 92-84 win. Along with his team-high four dimes, No. 7 also tallied 12 points and 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double.
LO was an equal opportunity assister on the evening, spreading his passes to four different Lakers. In the first quarter, he found Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant on consecutive possessions. In the second, it was Derek Fisher on the receiving end of a Lamar look, and then in the third, Steve Blake dropped a three off a feed from No. 7.
After letting things play out for the first three quarters, helping his teammates pick their spots, LO put the onus on himself in the fourth. No. 7 scored eight of his 12 points in the final quarter to pace the Lakers to victory. He ended the game in style, burying a dagger three with 1:47 to go to put the Lakers up by 12 as they cruised to the win.
The Lakers continue their road trip this week with three more games against playoff-bound foes.
Their next stop takes them to Atlanta, where they'll take on the team they kicked off their winning streak against, the Hawks.
The trip also takes LA through Miami to take on the scuffling Heat on Thursday and Dallas to face the surging Mavericks on Saturday.
"It's a test, a test to see how much better we've gotten over the last two weeks," LO said. "It'll be fun."
Tuesday's tip off in Atlanta is at 4 p.m. PST and the game can be seen on KCAL-TV.
- Lakers take down NBA-best Spurs to notch seventh straight victory (ESPN.com, March 6, 2011)
- Lakers start challenging trip vs. red-hot Spurs (OC Register, March 7, 2011)
- The gauntlet begins (Silver Screen and Roll, March 6, 2011)
- Lakers show little respect in blowout of Spurs (Fox Sports, March 6, 2011)
- Lakers blow away Spurs for seventh straight win (OC Register, March 7, 2011)
- Lakers face what could be a fateful week (LA Times, March 5, 2011)
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