04/29/2011 - 09:14
LO's All-Around Effort
If the Lakers wanted to close out their first round playoff series with New Orleans on Thursday night, it was apparent that they would need a complete effort from every man on the floor.
Lamar Odom took that to heart.
LO turned in his best performance of the series, an all-around game that left the Hornets stunned and decimated in their own home. It gave the Lakers a 98-80 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, closing out a 4-2 series win. It also booked a second round date with the Dallas Mavericks, starting Monday in LA.
LO takes it hard to the basket against Hornets center Emeka Okafor in the Lakers' Game 6 victory (Getty Images).
Lamar's line in the clinching victory was as good as it has ever been. He poured in 14 points on 50 percent shooting, yanked down eight rebounds and divvied up four assists.
No. 7's quartet of dimes was his most in the six-game series, while his point and rebound totals were both his second-best showing of the quarterfinals. His versatile game made for a force that New Orleans couldn't contain.
"I wanted to impact the game, which for me is just making plays," LO told the LA Times. "I wanted to take my time. I wanted to make plays and rebound. I wanted to play good basketball."
As has been the case for most of the series, No. 7's presence on the court was felt immediately upon his entry. After coming in with 3:30 to play in the first, he recorded an assist just seconds later on a dime to Pau Gasol.
It was the first of three straight assists for No. 7, who handed out baskets on three consecutive Lakers possessions, aiding a 6-2 run that put LA up by four late in the first. Lamar said the key to the surge was patience, as he told Broderick Turner of the LA Times:
"With my role, sometimes I feel like I can have good games and the stat sheet might not say it," he said. "I just try to make the right play, as well as be aggressive and help lead the second unit. I just try to stay patient."
Midway through the second, Lamar recorded his fourth and final assist of the evening, when he hit Matt Barnes for a bucket. During his running game diary, Barry Stavro of the LA Times wrote of LO's versatility in control of the offense:
Lamar Odom is playing like a point guard and has four assists and four boards off the bench as he was running the offense while Kobe Bryant rested.
ATTACKING THE HOOP
Held without a bucket of his own in the game's first 18 minutes, Lamar found his point of attack late in the first half and went at it.
In the closing minutes of the second quarter LO drove in for two straight layups and sank a free throw, putting Los Angeles ahead eight late in the second. They went into the break with a six-point edge. Then, with an opportunity to put the Hornets away in the second half, LO took off. He scored nine points in the game's final 13 minutes, on a bevy of shots.
He started with another cut to the basket and layup, stemming a New Orleans run late in the third and putting the Lakers back up by 10. With just 56 seconds gone by in the fourth, LO pushed that lead to 13 with a triple from the left wing off a Steve Blake dime.
After his trey forced the Hornets to adjust to his outside game, Lamar went back to attacking the basket, drawing a foul on his next trip down the lane. The subsequent free throws put LA up by 17. Little more than two minutes later, LO pushed the Lakers lead to 20 with another drive to the bucket for a layup finish. Los Angeles rolled from there.
"I was taking the ball to the basket," he said. "I was trying to get fouled. Hitting free throws, that was important to keep a good rhythm."
But LA couldn't have finished without its stingy defense. The Lakers packed in the paint and limited New Orleans to just seven offensive rebounds and four second chance points for the game. As Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA writes, the Los Angeles defense found itself at just the right time:
The only time this season the Lakers have truly looked like the favorites to win it all again was during that 17-1 stretch after the All-Star break, and the catalyst back then was the adjustments the coaching staff made to the team defense, igniting the players' interest level by creating a learning environment.
Dealing with New Orleans' pick-and-rolls made L.A.'s "malleable minds," as Jackson calls them, appear anew.
"I know it got our motors going," Artest said.
More so than engaging the gang, the Lakers' defense has brought the group together at a time when team chemistry cannot be overstated in its value to winning.
"It's kind of like this bond that starts to happen," Lamar Odom said. "Intensity picks up. Communication picks up. Eye contact amongst each other kind of picks up and collective energy and synergy picks up."
For the game, LO outrebounded the entire Hornets bench 8-7 and he scored just seven fewer points than the sum of the seven players New Orleans brought off the pine. Lamar stated that the key to his big night was staying within himself and the Lakers attack, while doing whatever was needed of him to help the Lakers move on.
"I always feel I can find my shot," Odom said. "There's a right way to do that on this team. It's important for me to always stay in that right place. I feel like the team needs that from me. And I expect it from myself at this point in my career.
"So whether it's eight points or 16 points, I expect to play good basketball."
A DATE WITH DALLAS
The win secured the Lakers a second round meeting with the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles was 2-1 in three regular season games against the Mavs this year. Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals kicks off on Monday at the Staples Center. Here is the full semifinal schedule.
Game 1 – Mon May 2 Dallas at L.A. Lakers 7:30PM TNT
Game 2 – Wed May 4 Dallas at L.A. Lakers 7:30PM TNT
Game 3 – Fri May 6 L.A. Lakers at Dallas TBD ESPN
Game 4 – Sun May 8 L.A. Lakers at Dallas 12:30PM ABC
Game 5 * Tue May 10 Dallas at L.A. Lakers TBD TNT
Game 6 * Thu May 12 L.A. Lakers at Dallas TBD ESPN
Game 7 * Sun May 15 Dallas at L.A. Lakers 12:30PM ABC
*if necessary. All times are Pacific.
- Kobe Bryant scores 24 points as Lakers eliminate Hornets in six games (ESPN.com, April 23, 2011)
- Lamar Odom finishes strong as Lakers finish off the Hornets (LA Times, April 29, 2011)
- Lakers united by team defense (ESPN LA, April 29, 2011)
- Lakers finally wear out Hornets, 98-80 (LA Times, April 29, 2011)
- Lakers vs. Hornets Game 6: Lakers 98, Hornets 80 (LA Times, April 28, 2011)
- L.A. 98, N.O. 80; Game 6 Running Diary (Lakers.com, April 28, 2011)
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