01/27/2012 - 08:47
Humbled And Still Hungry
Lamar Odom knows his rhythm is coming and a tough night like he had on Wednesday isn't going to get him down.
No. 7 grabbed four rebounds, but scored just five points and the Mavs had their winning streak snapped in a 105-90 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lamar got the start at his natural power forward position coming off three consecutive double-digit scoring performances, where he shot just a tick under 50 percent and helped push the Mavs to three wins.
But the shots simply wouldn't fall for him on Wednesday night, when he sank 2-of-14 from the field.
"I just missed shots I normally make," he said. "It's kind of like an exclamation for the start of the season for myself. I'm not myself yet…. I expect more out of myself than [others] could ever expect out of me. If you expect me to play well, then you can just imagine what I expect out of myself."
LO's post-game statements were backed by and repeated by Mavs' coach Rick Carlisle, who has been quick to note No. 7's work ethic and desire to improve:
"We want him to be aggressive. We want him to attack. He's got a unique skill of being able to put the ball on the floor and make plays. He just had some opportunities that didn't go down," Carlisle said. "This has been a challenge. We've been positive, upbeat about it, and will continue to be. When we address things, we address things honest. We're working hard with him."
Part of the adjustment process that Lamar has been tasked with is learning to roll with a team that executes plays at a faster pace than his former squad, the Lakers.
For the past several seasons, Lamar has been entrenched in an offensive system where the ball movement up-court was slow to medium at-best.
In contrast, the Mavs offense operates at high speed, pushing the ball up the court at a much faster pace. Teammate Shawn Marion mentioned the difficulty of coming to a new team and being forced to learn one's place in a new offensive system.
"Lamar's starting to pick up and get the feel for the flow of everything," Marion said. "It's a slow process but he's gradually taking steps and we're all helping him, so that's all that matters."
Throughout the ups and downs of the past month, his teammates and head coach have stood behind Lamar, both in public and private, as he works toward returning to the level he desires to compete.
"Hey listen, we believe in Lamar,'' Carlisle said. "This has been a struggle so far, but this guy can play. We're going to keep supporting him and keep believing in him, and he's going to get better and better. That's been his pattern every year of his career."
Dirk Nowitzki, who goes against Lamar every day in practice and has watched No. 7's performance in his stead the last few games, said he sees signs of a breakout in the way LO has been playing.
"He's close, he's close," Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News. "He's working, he's working. He's trying to drive, he's trying to mix his game in, he just doesn't have that lift yet going to the basket. But he's just got to keep on working like everybody else, and I think ultimately he's still going to be a great fit for this team."
Even Mavericks owner Mark Cuban came to LO's defense, comparing No. 7's lack of rhythm early this season to a similar situation that has plagued Nowitzki, the Mavs All-Star forward. Dallas has been without Nowitzki for their last three games as the power forward works to improve his conditioning. Cuban talked about the two in a recent appearance on the ESPN Radio Dallas' Ben & Skin show:
"He's going through the exact same thing Dirk is going through," Cuban said of LO. "Lamar had the shortest training camp of all of them."
With the support of his teammates, Lamar will keep working, fighting and trying to get back his rhythm. He knows and believes in his heart that it's only a matter of when.
"All I can do is remain patient," he said. "An old friend of mine used to tell me, 'It's not what you're gonna do. It's what can you do. What can you do?'"
LO's next chance to do something comes tonight when the Mavs take on the Utah Jazz at home. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 CT and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest.
- Mavericks' struggling Lamar Odom: 'I expect more out of myself' (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 26, 2012)
- Box Score: Timberwolves 105, Mavericks 90 (ESPN.com, Jan. 26, 2012)
- Wolves @ Mavs Post Game 19 Quotes "Mavs got Rings, laid, Love paid" (Mavs Moneyball, Jan. 26, 2012)
- Odom adjusting to playing small forward with Mavericks (Star-Telegram, Jan. 23, 2012)
- Cuban on Ben & Skin (Mavs Moneyball, Jan. 27, 2012)
- Mavericks' Odom: 'I'm Not Myself Yet' (WBAL TV, Jan. 26, 2012)
- Lamar Odom doesn't have to ask for support from Mavericks (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 26, 2012)
- Lamar Odom still searching for answers (ESPN Dallas, Jan. 26, 2012)
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