03/23/2011 - 09:57
Lamar Leaves it All on the Floor
The closer the NBA regular season gets to its end, the more games start to have a playoff-type feel.
Which is why Lamar Odom found himself on the court for an astounding 55 minutes last night against the Phoenix Suns.
In what turned out to be a duel for the ages, the Package saw the Lakers squander a 21-point third quarter lead, only to help his team rally in triple overtime for a 139-137 win.
"It was the perfect time [for triple overtime], with the [NCAA] tournament going on. A triple overtime game is always fun to play in...it's great to be a part of.
"I wish we would have put them away when we should have," LO told the AP. "But we found a way to win, and that's all that matters."
Along the way, No. 7 put up his most massive double-double of the year, scoring 29 points and hauling down 16 rebounds. Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN LA said LO's huge night highlighted a big win for the Lakers:
"Having Odom around came in awfully handy Tuesday night. With Andrew Bynum serving the second game of his two game ban, L.O. was a monster all over the floor. Odom was inside; he was outside. He ran the floor, he scored and distributed. And while the jumper was working -- Odom had everything working, really -- as his shot chart indicates he was extremely effective getting himself to the bucket.
He was particularly good with dribble penetration and away from the ball, making himself available for teammates and helping find holes in the defense when Phoenix threw out a zone. In overtime, Odom had two big baskets, along with a critical offensive rebound with 10 seconds to play, a second-chance opportunity cashed in by the Lakers when, with the Suns forced to foul, Derek Fisher eventually went to the line, putting the Lakers up by three.
Odom finished with 29 points on 13-of-22 shooting from the floor, plus a team-high 16 rebounds, five assists and a block, and (awful foul aside) was L.A.'s most consistent player on the floor all night."
Enjoying his second straight game as a starter in Bynum's stead, LO began balling early on Tuesday. He got into the act on LA's first possession of the night, when he grabbed the rebound off a Ron Artest miss and dished to Pau Gasol. Gasol finished the play with a dunk for the game's opening points. It was the first of five dimes on the evening for No. 7.
Five minutes later, LO notched another assist, then sank his first bucket of the evening, knocking down a deep jumper. Lamar closed out the quarter with a layup and free throw, then opened up the second just as hot, with six points in the frame's first three minutes.
LO dropped one more jumper in the second quarter before taking his seat on the bench for the first time. But the respite wasn't long. It was just two minutes before No. 7 came back into the game, closing out the first half with the rest of Los Angeles' starters.
Lamar kicked off the second half with a burst similar to his second quarter start, hitting a jumper and a three. He added a runner, got fouled and made his free throw to bring his tally to eight points in the half's opening four minutes. No. 7 also notched an assist in the frame, finding Kobe Bryant for a three.
Starting the fourth, LO again kick started the Lakers, hitting the period's first basket and then assisting on a Matt Barnes bucket. In the final minutes of the fourth, Lamar contributed a jumper and an assist, but with the two teams squared at 112, the game went to overtime.
HUMBLED BY THE GAME
In the first extra frame, LO scored four of the Lakers' nine points, but his performance was almost squandered.
With just over one second to play and the Lakers up by three, LO, knowing full well that LA had a foul to give, made a move to intentionally foul Channing Fyre.
But after his first attempt drew no call, Lamar grabbed Frye as the Suns shooter turned around to toss up a desperation three. The officials ruled that Fyre was in the act of shooting and the swingman sank all three free throws to send the game to a second overtime. LO said he thought he was doing the right thing, but admitted he clearly took too long to make the foul.
"I will remember the foul call," Lamar told reporters after the game. "I always tell you guys basketball is a humbling experience. Because I can think about throughout the game, ‘Yeah, I'm playing good. I'm having a good one.' And then, right before you know it, I'm the dope. You know what I'm saying?"
But No. 7 said that potentially being the game's goat gave him extra motivation.
"If I lose that game, I can't walk into the locker room," he said. "We are playing for pride. At the end of the day we all are. You just want to win."
The play energized Lamar, who hauled in six rebounds in the game's second and third overtimes. At the end of the third OT, the Lakers slowly pulled away behind the efforts of Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest and came away with a victory.
"You push through [fatigue] and you want to get every rebound," No. 7 said of making up for his mistake. "You want to make every play you possibly can."
LO said that, in playing a game like Tuesday's, you also gain an added respect for your competitors, knowing how easily your team could have been on the receiving end of that stinging loss:
"We always talk about being humbled as a player. It's something I always tell my wife. It's a little difficult to understand the whole mentality of a sportsman. We get humbled in front, not just the people in the arena [but] the people at home [watching on TV]. I'm talking about millions of people. Sometimes it can be hard to shake off, but you have to. That's what makes us tough. We love to compete. We love the odds against us as sportsmen."
It was an emotionally and physically draining night for Lamar, who joked after the game that he'd worked up an appetite after logging almost an hour of playing time.
"I'm tired, I'm ready to go home and I'm in the mood for pancakes," he said.
RON THE WRESTLER
A crucial factor to the Lakers putting an end to the game when they did was the play of LO's close friend Ron Artest on both sides of the ball.
In the three overtime periods, Artest tallied seven points, two rebounds and a crucial third OT steal that he took all the way to the other end for a jam to push LA over the top in their win.
After his triple with 1:27 to go in the first overtime gave the Lakers a 119-116 lead, forcing a Suns timeout, Artest blew kisses to the Staples Center crowd. And after the fastbreak dunk in the third overtime, Artest stood under the net, flexed his arms and kissed each of his biceps.
"It's cool," Lamar said after the game. "A basket in those situations could be worth 20 points as far as what it does to the team. He makes some big plays."
As for the posing, LO said Ron would make a perfect professional wrestler:
"He understands the stage we play on," he said. "He's going to make a great wrestler. He's got the antics and he doesn't know what's going on. He'll hit a guy with a chair.
Ron needs to be one of the best wrestlers ever. His interviews are great and that's what it takes to be the champion in wrestling, you have to have the best interviews."
To watch LO talk more about Ron's future potential in the sports entertainment business, click here.
After his 55-minute run through the Suns, LO gets a well deserved two days to recoup before the Lakers take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
In three games against the Clips this year, LO is averaging nine points and six rebounds a game.
Tip-off of that game is scheduled for 7:30 PST on FS West.
- Lakers 139, Suns 137 (3OT): Postgame videos (ESPN LA, March 22, 2011)
- Odom takes switch in roles in stride (OC Register, March 21, 2011)
- Kobe scores 42, Lakers outlast Suns in triple OT (USA Today, March 23, 2011)
- Lakers 139, Suns 137: At the Buzzer (ESPN LA, March 22, 2011)
- Third time's a charm for Lakers (LA Times, March 23, 2011)
- Ron Artest provides entertaining performance (LA Times, March 22, 2011)
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