02/07/2013 - 11:39
Lamar's All-Around Effort Leads LA to W
The Los Angeles Clippers needed somebody to step up on Wednesday to help secure a much-needed win and Lamar Odom answered the call.
Lamar scored eight points, grabbed five boards, dished four assists and had six steals in LA's skid-snapping victory (Getty Images).
As LA's eight-game road trip continued in Orlando on Wednesday, so too did, All-Star forward Blake Griffin's absence from the lineup with a hamstring injury. But Lamar was once again ready to step up. After all, the work LO has put into the team—as well as himself—to this point in the season has prepared him for moments such as this. It was simply time to get to work.
"If you have a pipe and there's a hole in it, you try to fix it. We'll try to fix it."
In the Clippers' 86-76 win over the Magic, LO got his second straight start and filled the hole admirably, chipping in eight points, five rebounds, four assists and a career-high six steals.
"We needed collective energy tonight," Odom said. "In order to win this game, we needed to focus on our unity. That's what families do during times of adversity."
It should come as no surprise that Lamar provided a spark for the Clippers, he made a living doing so for the Lakers for many years. But just how Lamar did it was the impressive part. LO got off to a rough start against the Magic, with a missed jumper and two turnovers in the first three minutes of play. But rather than frustrate LO, those plays motivated him.
He went on to grab three steals in the opening frame and sank his first bucket of the night to help push the Clippers from a six-point deficit to a 17-17 tie after one. By halftime the Clippers had trimmed the deficit to just two points. It was at the start of the second half that LA took over the game.
Early in the third quarter, Lamar got his fourth steal as he picked off a pass from E-Twuan Moore and pushed it the other way, where DeAndre Jordan threw down and alley-oop off a feed from Eric Bledsoe to tie the game at 44. Orlando briefly retook the lead, but the Clippers answered with a deuce from Caron Butler off a feed from LO. Moments later, No. 7 fed Bledsoe for a trey to put the Clippers up three, then stole an Orlando pass and dished to Willie Green for a layup to give Los Angeles a 51-46 lead.
"It's really not in his nature to be a selfish basketball player," Barnes said. "He's one of those guys that can do everything to fill up the stat sheet."
Thanks to Lamar's selfless play, the Clippers led the rest of the way. Afterward, LO's teammates praised his leadership, particularly DeAndre Jordan, who noted that Lamar has stepped into a role as one of LA's veteran leaders and helped the team mature into a true contender.
"That was all Lamar tonight. He kept everybody's head into it and he kept us focused and that really helped us," Jordan said. "Lamar kept everybody tight tonight. Even when we were down he kept us right. You have to listen to a guy like that who has won two rings. On the teams he was on they overcame a lot of things to win so he knows what he's talking about. We're lucky to have a guy like that to learn from on this team."
But Lamar wasn't done contributing after the Clippers pulled ahead, he kept the pedal down to help finish the win. After his steal and dish to Green, LO grabbed a pair of rebounds, the second leading directly to a Butler trey to make it a 10-point game.
Then, Lamar and Bledsoe began to run an efficient two-man game and each time the Magic scored, the duo had an answer. First LO fed Bledsoe for a 17-footer to make it a 10-point lead and less than a minute later, Bledsoe returned the favor, leading to a 21-footer from LO that dropped to make it 60-50.
Los Angeles led by nine after three and maintained an edge of at least five as the reserves played through the early stretches of the fourth.
When Lamar returned to the floor with 4:46 to go, the Clippers lead was eight and he made sure they couldn't lose it. His triple with 2:11 remaining made it a 10-point game. Less than a minute later, with the Magic threatening to cut the LA lead to two possessions, LO picked off another pass, his career-high sixth steal to put the game away.
"There's a time and place for everything," he said. "It's all about making the right basketball play. And sometimes the right basketball play is to look at the basket and make plays and sometimes the right basketball play is to move it and get people involved. With this team, I have to find that happy medium, When guys go out you might have to do a little bit more of whatever it is. Whatever I need to do to win the game, that's what I'm going to do."
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Clippers and though they had lost seven of their previous nine before their victory in Orlando, Lamar noted that stretches of adversity like the one they just endure are only going to make them stronger as a team.
"If it's easy, something's wrong. That's fool's gold," Odom said. "You have to go through your ups and downs and it's all about how you respond to them as a unit. This is a tough time for us, but it's a good time. It's a measuring stick. This is an amazing test for us, but you have to embrace it and hopefully that makes you better."
The Clippers will face another tough test on Friday night when they head to Miami to take on the defending champion Heat.
LA hopes to have both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin back in the lineup for their showdown with the Heat, which would shift LO back into a reserve role after two straight starts. But Lamar is confident that whatever his role going forward, he will manage to fit right in an contribute the best way he knows how to the Clippers' effort.
"You have to know your place and understand protocol," LO said. "I'm always going to be one of the best basketball players out there. Because that's what I am: more than a scorer or a rebounder or a passer. I'm a complete basketball player."
Friday's game in Miami tips at 5 p.m. EST and can be seen nationally on ESPN.
- Clippers end losing skid (The Associated Press, February 6, 2013)
- Depleted Clippers get past Orlando Magic, 86-76 (LA Times, February 6, 2013)
- Clippers need more from Odom (LA Times, February 6, 2013)
- Rapid reaction: Clippers 86, Magic 76 (ESPN Los Angeles, February 6, 2013)
- Odom keeps Clippers together in victory (ESPN Los Angeles, February 6, 2013)
- Postgame report: Clippers vs. Magic (LAClippers.com, February 6, 2013)
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