The versatile 6-foot-10 forward gave the Los Angeles Lakers just what they needed.
Odom, making his first start of the season in place of Gasol, had season-best totals of 17 points and 12 rebounds in a season-high 38 minutes, and the Lakers rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to beat the New York Knicks 116-114 on Tuesday night.
"I think I have the flu. Who knows?" Odom said afterward. "Pau was out and I kind of willed myself to do it. Football mentality."
Gasol, averaging 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds, came to Staples Center for the game, but was sent home because of strep throat.
Nate Robinson, who scored a season-high 33 points, had a chance to give New York a late lead, but missed a short jumper with about 12 seconds to play. Two foul shots by Derek Fisher with 6.4 seconds left made it 115-112, and the Lakers then intentionally fouled Robinson, who made two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining, making it a one-point game.
Fisher made another foul shot with 2.7 seconds left, and Chris Duhon missed a desperation shot from the backcourt as time expired.
"We remembered all the battles we've been through. We didn't panic," said Bryant, who also had seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. "Just to be able to stay calm and push our way through, it was a good game for us to have."
Fisher had 15 points and a season-high seven assists; Walton scored a season-high 14 points, Ariza added 13, and Andrew Bynum had 13 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"It was a challenging game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I think we anticipated that as a staff, but I don't think our players anticipated that kind of ballgame."
The Lakers outrebounded the Knicks 49-38 and shot 47.4 percent to New York's 45.7 percent. The Knicks made 13 of 31 3-pointers to 6-of-23 for Los Angeles and went 27-of-28 from the foul line.
"We worry about the losses, but I think we're playing better," said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, whose team finished its five-game road trip with a 2-3 record. "We said that this was going to be a measuring stick. We need to learn how to finish games and play a little better together and cut down on some bad shots. But we'll get there."
David Lee had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Quentin Richardson also scored 18 points for New York. Tim Thomas scored 13 points, Duhon had 12 points and 11 assists, and Al Harrington also scored 12 for the Knicks (11-14), who played without backup forward Jared Jeffries.
"I take my hat off to our team tonight," Robinson said. "We played well. Will (Chandler) did a phenomenal job on Kobe. Our team's getting better and better each day, and that's something that we can look forward to. The team is just buckling down, playing great defense and getting stops. We're going to score a lot of points, but it's all about stopping other teams."
Bryant's 19-foot jumper with 1:38 left gave the Lakers a 111-109 lead, but Robinson made a 3-pointer 20 seconds later to give the Knicks a one-point lead. Ariza then scored off a pass from Odom, putting Los Angeles on top for good.
Bryant scored seven points during an 11-2 run that put the Lakers on top 103-101 with 5:18 remaining -- their first lead since the first quarter. Neither team led by more than four points after that.
The Lakers outscored the Knicks 11-2 to begin the second half, trimming New York's lead to 67-61, and scored seven consecutive points later in the third quarter to draw within three. It was 88-84 entering the final period.
A night after going 5-of-37 from 3-point range in a 111-103 loss at Phoenix, the Knicks shot 11-of-23 from beyond the arc in the first half in taking a 65-50 lead. The sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center booed the Lakers off the court at halftime.
The Knicks went 2-of-8 from 3-point range after halftime.
"We made an adjustment in the second half," Ariza said.
Asked to elaborate, Ariza smiled and said: "Don't give up so many 3's."
- Banished Knicks guard Stephon Marbury attended the game as a fan and spoke briefly with reporters at halftime. "I didn't create this, this is all their doing," he said of his status as a non-player with the Knicks despite being under contract. "I'm still earning my check by doing nothing. I'm staying in shape. My mind-set is to enjoy my life." Marbury hasn't played this season and has been told to stay away from the team while the sides are working on a buyout. He is under contract for about $21 million.
- The Lakers entered the game as the NBA's highest-scoring team with a 108.0-point average, and the Knicks were third at 104.9 points. So it was no surprise to see such a high-scoring game between the teams.
- The Lakers are 14-1 at home this season, including 11 consecutive victories since a 106-95 loss to Detroit.
- The Lakers are 7-2 against Eastern Conference opponents and the Knicks are 5-5 against the West.