Lakers pin performance on Odom
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Under the watchful eye of six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers held their shootaround Tuesday morning in preparation for their pivotal Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After the shootaround Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he is considering rotation changes for Game 5 to, "try and get Lamar [Odom] involved. He's got to get the ball in the game. If he plays well, we usually play well."
Odom is averaging just 7.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the series, down from 10.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in the regular season.
The NBA announced Tuesday that Odom finished sixth in voting for the Sixth Man Award. Odom received one first-place vote, six second-place votes and two third-place votes from a panel of 122 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. The Atlanta Hawks' Jamal Crawford finished first, followed by Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks and Anderson Varejao of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I didn't expect to win," Odom said.
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Odom does have higher expectations for his performance in the rest of the series, however.
"I got to find that rhythm that I'm used to playing with, especially at this time," Odom said. "This is the first playoff series I've ever had where I would consider myself 'struggling.' It is important for me tonight to come out tonight and kind of stand my ground, mark my 'imprint' on the game as Phil would say."
Kobe Bryant, who did not practice on Monday while resting his sore right knee, had "limited" participation in the shootaround, according to Jackson. D.J. Mbenga (left eye) was confirmed as being out for the game. If the team was feeling any pressure about the must-win nature of the Game 5, it didn't show it.
"Same old basketball team," Jackson said. "Same old group of guys."
When asked if Abdul-Jabbar had any message of motivation for the team as it faces a fork in its road to a repeat championship, Jackson smiled and said, "He didn't say one word."