01/16/2012 - 11:33 Lamar Closes in on Comfort Zone by
Lamar Odom is starting to feel more comfortable on the court in Dallas and it's coming out in his play.
Lamar contributed nine points, seven rebounds and a block to the Mavericks' 99-60 victory over the Sacramento Kings at home on Saturday night. But it was a fantastic helper to end the first quarter that was No. 7's most memorable moment of the night.
LO and Ian Mahinmi put a highlight reel exclamation point on an incredible first for the Mavs when Lamar drove baseline to serve up a lob pass off-the-dribble to Mahinmi for a monster dunk. The slam sealed the scoring for the first quarter and capped a 15-1 Mavs run as they took a 27-11 lead after one. Dallas never looked back on the way to a fifth straight victory.
Behind a sixty-minute display of rock-solid defense, LO and his teammates held the Kings to only 60 points, etching a franchise record for least amount of points allowed in a game. Lamar was solid again in his 22 minutes off the bench, but he's far from content with the way he is playing and intends to work even harder as he continues proving himself as a Mav.
"I can't really hang my hat on one game," he said. "I've still got to build with this team. Just go out there and try to win it."
New defensive principles have been a big part of Lamar's learning process in Dallas (Getty Images).
LO did however acknowledge that the comfort and conditioning are coming along well.
"My body feels like it's starting to whip into shape," he said. "It makes the game more enjoyable when you've got your body under you."
LO's all-around good night followed a similar showing one night earlier against the Milwaukee Bucks. In 23 minutes of game action, No. 7 scored six points and added six boards and a block in a 102-76 Lakers win.
"He's just got to keep pushing," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We'll keep working with him, but I think he's very close to making a real quantum step up. It's work. He's just got to keep going.''
Teammates can see the strides Lamar has been making, and the work he's been putting in to get there.
"It'll be a matter of time, but he'll start to fit in," guard Jason Terry said. "He's coming out of a system where they kind of just walked the ball up and down the court. Defensively they do a lot of zoning in their man principles, so it's been a big adjustment for him, but he's putting in extra time."
To help him a long his way, Lamar has been seeking advice from all who can help. He recently fielded a call from former coach Phil Jackson, one of LO's staunchest supporters in Los Angeles. No. 7 said the conversation was helpful and Jackson offered him some of his famous Zen wisdom.
"He told me just to be strong and get myself together and get myself in that place mentally where I can use basketball as my sanctuary," LO told ESPN Dallas. "He said relearn to do that through meditation and other forms to get to a place where you kind of leave everything else behind and focus on the now, the moment. And that's what I have to work on in order to put myself in a place where I can go out here and actually play the game like I used to play it."
Lamar also believes he will get there and he says he can feel it getting closer with each practice and each game.
"Honestly, I'm trying to play basketball the right way and play hard for the team. I'm so past what numbers I've got to have or I don't have for me to play well. There's so many different things I can do and so many different ways I can affect the game on this team," he said.
"Of course I know I can play better, but I will as I start to be a little bit more prepared and get into the shape I'm used to playing at and playing my style and my rhythm, playing my style of basketball."
It's a homecoming tonight for Lamar as he and the Mavs are in his old stomping grounds to take on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
Lamar's former teammate Kobe Bryant has scored 40 or more points in the last three Lakers contests and will be a handful for the Mavs tonight. But LO and the Mavs are riding a streak of their own tonight in which the team has won five straight seven of its last eight contests including Saturday's blowout of the Kings at home.
LA is the first stop in the Mavericks' four-game road trip this week. Tipoff is scheduled for 9:30 CT on TNT.