01/05/2012 - 12:00
No. 7 Keeps Getting Better In Mavs Win
For all intens and purposes, Wednesday was a standard game for Lamar Odom.
LO came off the bench to tally 15 points, shot successfully from the field (6-of-12) and played a variety of roles, including the point forward, in helping push his team to victory.
No. 7 seemed to come into his own in the Mavs' 98-89 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, contributing 23 minutes off the bench with a season-high in points and five boards. But ask Lamar himself, and he'll be the first to admit that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"I'm used to really playing at a high level," he said. "I could really help this team. There are so many plays, so many plays, basketball plays. I'll just keep working and working and working until I get to that level that I'm used to playing at."
But he is getting there, and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year's increasing comfort level with his new team was reflected in his play on Wednesday night.
He is beginning to assimilate into his new ball-handling role as a point forward alongside Jason Terry, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Ian Mahinmi on the Mavs' second quarter unit.
"Lamar Odom is a big key to the success of this team this season," Terry said. "And I believe once he gets right, then we're going to be tough to beat."
LO entered the game with 5:42 left in the first quarter and contributed two points and a rebound in a 25-25 first. But it wasn't until the second quarter when LO really started to make his presence felt with the second unit. Running the show from the point forward, LO got the Mavs offense rolling and found a niche in the two-man game with Vince Carter.
First Carter found LO cutting to the basket, where No. 7 finished with a finger roll to put the Mavs in front 33-28. Then, moments later, VC got the ball to Lamar again for a layup, which made it 37-30 Dallas. LO added a trey later in the quarter and already had a season-high nine points at halftime as the Mavs led 49-41 at the break. Dallas kept the pedal down in the second half and already had a double-digit lead when Lamar came back into the game. He added a couple of smooth jumpers and a trip to the free throw line in the second half to finish off a strong night on offense.
"I think he's comfortable now within the offense and running the show, and that makes us a tough team to guard," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He just needs to work on a lot of little things. I love the attitude he has, and he's a terrific guy."
Since the team's acquisition of LO, Carlisle has been tinkering with various lineups trying to find the right chemistry to give Lamar a boost. After the game, the Mavs coach told reporters that both the team and No. 7 seemed to find a successful combination against Phoenix.
"It was effective out there tonight," he said. "We're always looking at the rotation and trying to get the right guys in together, shooters with drivers and all that kind of stuff. More and more, he's doing better things and getting used to playing with our guys…. For him, he's having to learn three, maybe four positions and you just have to take baby steps. He's making gradual strides at both ends."
In addition to his offensive contributions, No. 7 also padded last night's stat line with two steals, but it wasn't enough to satisfy his own high expectations.
"Starting to get my legs feeling a little better. My body's getting under me, supporting what I do," LO told Dallas Basketball. "Basketball's a tough game to play when you say 'Jump' and you slide, and when you say 'Slide' you jump.
Lately, in an effort to get back to the level he feels he should be at, LO has been putting in extra time on the hardwood following the team's shootaround, working out long after his teammates leave the floor. What do these workouts entail?
"Everything," Carlisle told ESPN's Jeff Caplan. "Conditioning, familiarity, trying to tweak some things to take advantage of his unusual abilities and just trying to keep things going the right way."
Dirk Nowitzki recently told NBA.com's David Aldridge that the team expected Lamar would need some time to get into the groove of the way the Mavs run offense. Dirk said he's noticed LO forcing things a little bit in his first few games as a Maverick, but he believes that will change when No. 7 gets comfortable.
"I really like Lamar, his versatility at both ends of the floor, but it's going to take some time for him to get used to it. He's been playing the triangle system, and now you've got all sorts of different calls again, and systems, and he's got to get used to that," Dirk said. "We've got some length, and Lamar is a good rebounder for his size. We can make it work. We just need to play off each other a little more, and play with each other, and get used to it a little more. But I really like what he brings to the team."
Tonight, Lamar and the Mavericks continue their grueling schedule as they travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs (4-3). The Mavs (0-2 in road games this season) are looking to sever the Spurs unbeaten streak at home and extend their win streak to three games. Tipoff is 7:30 PM CST and the game can be seen on FS Southwest.
- Bench comes through in big way (ESPN Dallas / Fort Worth, Jan. 4, 2012)
- Lamar Odom: "This is still ugly for me" (ESPN Dallas / Fort Worth, Jan. 4, 2012)
- Shawn Marion, ill, misses shootaround (ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth, Jan. 4, 2012)
- Suns @ Mavs Post Game 7 Quotes "1k in the Bank" (Mavs Moneyball, Jan. 5, 2012)
- Dallas Mavericks (3-4) at San Antonio Spurs (4-2) (Miami Herald, Jan. 5, 2012)
- From Twitter to labor, recalling the NBA year that was (NBA.com, Jan. 2, 2012)
- Quoteboard: With 'Dirk, They Have A Chance' (DallasBasketball, Jan. 4, 2012)
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