BOSTON -- If it's not the ridiculously obnoxious chants aimed at him from Boston Celtics fans, it's Glen Davis beating him to a pulp or criticism for his occasional lack of aggression being tattooed across his forehead. Or a bunch of other things. In other words, it's been a rough NBA Finals for Lamar Odom.
Odom is a prideful and professional man. What's happening to Odom, his disappearing game coming smack dab in the middle of the NBA Finals, must be eating him alive inside.
Odom is a crucial cog in the Lakers' empire. If he continues to struggle, and center Andrew Bynum's body remains a thin sheet of porcelain, the Lakers are done. That's it. That is all. They won't win.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson is in a difficult spot. Bynum's injury means Odom must have more of an inside physical presence but for now, Odom isn't up to the task. He looks tentative, almost nervous. Odom clearly is uncomfortable with being almost solely responsible for toughening up the Lakers' gut with Bynum in a state of flux.
"I know what's expected," Odom explained, "but as a team, we have to really adapt and figure things out. We've got to get our shots where we need to get them and shrink the court a little bit more. We have to shrink the court and make teams beat us from the outside. We have to defensive rebound as a unit.
"It's not about me. When we win a game, it's not because I played great, and when we lose a game it's not because I played badly. Today the Lakers got beat, and it's important for us to fix that. It's important for us to fix what we have to do as a team."
Odom responded to the loss of Bynum with 10 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes of play. At halftime, he had four points and six rebounds. Odom was pedestrian at a time when the Lakers needed him to be great.
|Odom can't say much with sparkplug Nate Robinson in his face. (Getty Images)|
"I'll tell you what he's done well, he's done well with matchups," Jackson said of Rivers. "He's done well in attacking some of our weaker guys out there on the floor in situations that's given them an advantage. I thought he's used his bench exceptionally well."
When Jackson was asked if there was any way to get Odom jumpstarted, Jackson quipped, "I was thinking of an electrode, you know. Something that would really be a stimulus. What do you suggest?"
"Lamar struggled two years ago in this series in this matchup," Jackson said, "and he has to break through kind of that mental gap that he had from that experience to move forward."
Odom did struggle two years ago against the Celtics so isn't it Jackson's job to make him not struggle?
"We've got to get the ball moving as a team," Odom said. "We've got to get the ball moving. I can't just iso my man, take him off the dribble and shoot 25 shots. That's not how we got here. That's not how we play. We all have to figure out what Andrew gives us and what we're gonna miss and how we can make up for it."
The Lakers need a vibrant Odom and they need him fast or the Celtics are going to beat the Lakers in the Finals. Again.