03/28/2012 - 09:42
Lamar Propels Mavs Bench
Lamar Odom was a man on a mission in Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets.
That mission? To propel the Mavericks to a win.
LO came off the bench to score four quick points and spark a Mavs comeback with his energy and aggressiveness (Getty Images).
LO was successful in that goal, providing the aggressive spark off the bench that the Mavs so desperately needed after the starters dug themselves a double-digit deficit in the first quarter.
In 23 minutes, Lamar racked up nine points — on a near perfect 4-for-5 shooting — pulled down four boards, served up three assists and then added a steal and a block for good measure. His production off the bench helped the Mavericks defeat the division-rival Houston Rockets, 90-81.
The Mavericks fans responded to Lamar's energy with cheers, something that brought at smile to the swingman's face.
"That's a really good feeling," he said. "Even when I checked into the game it was a little different tonight and I think they kind of understand me and where I'm coming from and what I want to do, and nobody wants it as bad as me."
Like he has so many times in his career, Lamar brought the spark from the moment he checked in. When LO relieved Dirk Nowitzki seven minutes into the first quarter, the Mavs trailed the Rockets 21-8 and looked lost at sea offensively.
But after grabbing a quick rebound, No. 7 drove through the lane for a tough layup to cut into the deficit. He continued his aggressive play on the next Dallas possession, following through with a slam dunk. The back-to-back buckets kick-started the Mavs' offense and by the end of the quarter they'd trimmed a deficit once as high as 16 down to 11.
By halftime, the Mavs were within three and they took the lead with 5:39 left in the third. LO checked back in shortly thereafter and quickly picked up where he left off.
With the score tied at 55, Lamar kicked a perfect pass to Jason Kidd, who drained a trey to give the Mavericks a 58-55 lead.
The Mavericks were able to build off of J-Kidd's three-pointer and went on to score nine unanswered points, capped off by another layup in the lane by LO, to extend their lead for 64-55.
"It was definitely fun to see him in attack mode. We all want to make this work," Dirk Nowitzki told ESPN Dallas. "I think we all know, the fans know, we know if he's aggressive getting to the basket, playing with energy, getting rebounds, blocking shots, I think this team can go to another level.
"I think everybody sees it, and so we're behind him and hopefully there's going to be more of that."
During the run that put Dallas ahead for good, Lamar asserted himself on the defensive end as well. He was such a critical part of the Mavericks' success that the team outscored the Rockets by eight points with him on the court.
"He played his game," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said of LO's big night. "That's how he plays. It was big because we needed a lift and he was one of several guys that gave it to us. He was terrific all night long. I like the way he played tonight and this is a step in the right direction."
With the help of Lamar, the Mavericks tallied 48 of their 90 points off the bench. Guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who provided 14 of those points, credited LO with helping to lead the Dallas bench crew.
"We all know what he's capable of doing and when he plays like that it's great for the team. He's an incredible player so when he feels it and plays this way it's a plus for us for sure."
When asked what the difference was between Tuesday night's effort and some of his previous games, LO mentioned feeling "comfortable" as the key to his success.
"I'm finally getting to the point where I'm getting my second wind," he said. "I can finally count on my body, which in this game is what it's all about. All you can do is take it game by game and not get too excited."
And a game-by-game basis is precisely how LO and the Mavericks will approach the final stretch of regular-season games as they close out the hunt for a playoff berth.
LO'S OLD SCHOOL SWAG
In the wake of his recent struggles, Lamar got some advice from a friend, but it wasn't necessarily the type of advice one would expect.
Laron Profit, a longtime friend and former teammate with the 2005-2006 Lakers, reached out to LO this week and shared some photos of his rookie days with the LA Clippers. One thing about the photos that stood out to No. 7 was the headband that he wore.
Wanting to tap into that superstitious edge, LO reintroduced the headband back into his uniform for Tuesday night's game. For Lamar, it was a tribute to his past, and a physical reminder of what he's capable as he slides into a new role in Dallas.
"I was just having fun," he told the Dallas Morning News. "It's something I just decided to do for some people back home today."
Lamar told ESPN Dallas that Profit also gave him something to think about regarding his recent struggles on the court.
"We were just talking about tough times and he was like, maybe it was meant for you to start off slow. I was like ‘What are you talking about?' And he was like, ‘So you can really know how people feel about you.' It goes to show that we got great guys on this team that are loyal, that are pulling for me, so it's good to know."
LO GOES TO THE ZOO
The Mavs had an off-day Monday, but LO spent it giving back to the Dallas community.
Lamar and teammate Delonte West represented the Mavericks at the Dallas Zoo, where they were joined by 30 Metroplex elementary and middle school students to learn about various animals in an effort to promote conservation.
The students, who were selected as Mavs Academic All-Stars based on their stellar performance in the classroom, got to sit alongside the two players as zoo specialists brought out a variety of animals such as penguins, an alligator and a boa constrictor.
Odom preferred the penguins to the gator and the snake in his first voyage into charity work in the Dallas area.
"I kept my distance, but it was pretty cool," said LO of his time near the boa constrictor. "That's what it's all about, coming out here and getting to know your community. Of course, this is my first time out here. It's my first year here in Dallas and just getting out, getting to know people is what it's all about."
It won't be an easy ride for LO and the Mavs to navigate through the rest of the regular-season, particularly in regard to their next contest on Thursday night.
The Mavericks head to Miami to square off against the Heat, who stomped the reigning-champion Mavericks in their season-opener -- something that many Mavs, particularly Jason Terry, won't soon forget.
"The way they put a number on us Christmas Day, you know, we don't forget," Terry said of Thursday night's matchup. "We'll see what happens but I can only imagine it's gonna be fierce. They're coming off two losses and we've still got that taste in our mouth from opening night."
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT, locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on TNT.
- Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks Box Score (NBA.com, Mar. 28, 2012)
- Houston Rockets @ Dallas Mavericks Post Game 51 Quotes (Mavs Moneyball, Mar. 28, 2012)
- Lamar Odom picks up sluggish Mavs (ESPN Dallas, March 28, 2012)
- Lamar Odom and bench brigade lead Mavericks to victory (Boston Herald, March 28, 2012)
- How Lamar Odom turned boos into cheers in Mavs' win over Rockets (Dallas Morning News, March 28, 2012)
- Old friend Laron Profit spurs Lamar Odom (ESPN Dallas, March 28, 2012)
- Lamar Odom grateful for team, fan support during promising performance (Dallas Morning News, March 28, 2012)
- Delonte West eats with lions at the zoo? (ESPN Dallas, March 27, 2012)
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