Archives For March 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Lamar Odom (Save the Absolutely Inexcusable Last-Second Foul on Channing Frye in OT… see below). From a more macro view, when the Lakers re-signed Lamar Odom a couple of summers back, it helped bring last year’s title and may very well have unknowingly aided in perhaps the greatest flurry of movement in high-end player talent the league has ever seen. In the micro, having Odom around came in awfully handy Tuesday night. With Andrew Bynum serving the second game of his two game ban, L.O. was a monster all over the floor. Odom was inside; he was outside. He ran the floor, he scored and distributed. And while was the jumper working — Odom had everything working, really — as his shot chart indicates, he was extremely effective getting himself to the bucket.

From Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns: There’s a reason they call this time of year March Madness. The Suns and Lakers played a game as wild as anything we saw in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, with the Lakers finally prevailing 139-137 in triple overtime of a contest neither team deserved to lose. In a game of twists and turns, this one turned definitively when Grant Hill fouled out with 2:18 remaining in the third overtime after committing his second foul of the possession in a span of 12 seconds defending Kobe Bryant with the Suns up two. After a very physical trio of overtimes in which the refs really let both sides play, I was shocked that they would foul Hill out on a play with a minuscule bit of body contact that happens on every play that was followed by a Kobe dive into the baseline for dramatic effect.

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: I needed that game.  I think we all did.  After the traveshamockery that was the first game of TNT’s special Tuesday night doubleheader, the NBA needed this, and I for one was glad that went on as long as it did.  I wanted overtime when the score was tied at the end of regulation and the Phoenix Suns had the final shot.  I wanted triple overtime when Pau Gasol was fouled with 2.5 seconds left and the Los Angeles Lakers down two.  But I also wanted double overtime when it was the Lakers who were up three and Phoenix needed three clutch free throws from Channing Frye on a semi-questionable shooting foul.  I’m happy the Lakers ended up victorious, but I spent much of the evening simply rooting for more.

From Rey-Rey, The No Look Pass: Yes, the 139-137 final may indicate that the defense was porous in this contest. But you know what? Isn’t this what basketball is all about? Awesome shooting from both sides. Great plays by both teams. And there are even some defensive gems that can be found in this triple-overtime thriller. Sure, there are bonehead plays from time to time but put this all in one nice little package and it was the best game that I have watched this season. Let me break it down into different topics. THE NUMBERS: Laker shooting? 53/120 (44.2 percent). 120 FIELD GOAL ATTEMPTS. Phoenix shot 51/106 (48.1 percent). Both teams combined to shoot 68 3-pointers! Suns were 17/41 (41.5 percent) while the Lakers (who are not a good 3-point shooting team) shot 11/27 (40.7 percent). But Vince Carter (who missed two key three-pointers down the loooong stretch) went 2 for 13. Ouch.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The longest, wildest night of the NBA season began with Lamar Odom racing through the corridors of Staples Center just after 6 p.m., a shoelace untied, trying to beat the clock and not be counted by the Lakers’ coaches as being tardy. Odom being Odom, as he ran past my left shoulder toward the Lakers’ locker room, he reached around to tap me on the right shoulder in the age-old joke trying to get me to look the wrong way. Odom wasn’t running as he walked out of the arena at nearly 11:30 p.m. Tuesday – his personal season-high 29 points scored, a Lakers season-high 55 minutes logged and one colossal blunder in Overtime No. 1 having not cost the Lakers a game that went all the way to Overtime No. 3.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Lamar Odom carried the Lakers pretty far, although not to the finish in just the fourth triple-overtime game in Los Angeles Lakers history. In the end Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant had the 107th game of his career with at least 40 points – although just the third this season – and Ron Artest rose up with four consecutive points late for the Lakers to secure their 13th victory in 14 games since the All-Star break. It was one of the thrilling games of the NBA season, the Lakers prevailed, 139-137, with clutch free throws on both sides propelling the game into a third extra session. The only other home triple-overtime game in Los Angeles Lakers history came in 1969.Bryant wound up with a season-high 42 points on 15-of-31 shooting despite his sprained left ankle. Artest had 18 points, Pau Gasol 24 and Odom his season-high 29 as the Lakers survived the second game of Andrew Bynum’s two-game NBA suspension.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: The crowd gasped in frustration, pleading for Lakers forward Ron Artest not to shoot the wide-open three-pointer. He did anyway. The shot dropped in the bucket, gave the Lakers a three-point lead in the first overtime Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns and the 18,997 at Staples Center reacted hysterically. In return, Artest blew kisses in the air, soaking in all the adulation. The image surely represents the never-ending anxieties and fickle relationship Laker fans have with Artest, swinging in frustration over his trigger-happy tendencies and distracted persona to admiration for his fearless mindset and goofball behavior. But the latter image was present all night long in the Lakers’ 139-137 triple overtime victory Monday over the Phoenix Suns, a performance that featured Artest scoring seven of his 18 points on seven of 14 shooting and one of his three steals in extra regulation with funny antics along the way.

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: Ron Artest blew kisses to the crowd in the first overtime after his three-pointer gave the Lakers a 119-116 lead. Artest kissed his biceps after his steal led to his dunk and a 135-132 Lakers lead in the third overtime. Get the picture? Artest was animated during the Lakers’ 139-137 triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at Staples Center. Why? “I kind of knew what the outcome was going to be, so I was relaxed” Artest maintained. “We talked about it.” It figures Artest would talk this way, because only he can sum up his play that way. Artest had seven points during the overtimes, three in the first OT and four in the third, all of them important.

UPDATE: From ESPN Stats & Information, TrueHoop: The Lakers last won a game of at least three overtimes on December 8, 1961, when they defeated the Philadelphia Warriors 151-147 in triple overtime. Tuesday marked the first time that Los Angeles ever won a triple-overtime game at home. The only time that the Lakers had even played such a home game was a 122-117 loss to the San Francisco Warriors in 1969.

UPDATE #2: From Trey Kirby, The Baskeball Jones (with video): According to GirlsAskGuys.com, this is why guys kiss their arm muscles: “It really is to show off. There is no reason to do it. They just like showing that they are big, and strong, and powerful. Etc.” So true. Trust me. But another good reason to do it is to celebrate the biggest of your four measly dunks of the season. It’s like Ron Artest had been waiting all this time and lifting all those weights, just so when the moment struck he’d be ready. Totally worth the wait.

In the game preview, I mentioned that if the Lakers had a chance to throw a knockout punch, they had better make sure it landed. With about 4:40 left to go in the third, Kobe hit a three-pointer to put the Lakers up by 21. After an awful defensive first half, it looked as if the Lakers had corrected all of their defensive problems as the Suns had only scored eight point up until that point. With a 21-point lead late in the third, all the Lakers needed to do was keep the defensive intensity up for another four and a half minutes and they’d find themselves up big going into the fourth, with the starters getting rest for much of the final period. But instead of the starters getting a break, the game was extended 15 minutes longer than the normal 48, ending with a Lakers two-point overtime win.

As mentioned, things were sloppy on the defensive end early. Steve Nash performed beautifully in the first quarter, finishing the first 12 minutes with seven assists. As soon as Marcin Gortat came in for Robin Lopez, the Suns pick and roll game was elevated to a level that was seemingly impossible for the Lakers to stop. If Nash wasn’t feeding Gortat on the hard roll, he was taking it to the basket himself. If he wasn’t getting to the rim, he was kicking it out to willing jump shooters. Nash’s penetration continually collapsed the defense, and when the ball was kicked out, all Suns on the floor became willing passers, taking advantage of the Lakers slow rotations and finding the open man for easy baskets.

Offensively, the Lakers were a bit out of character, shooting way too many threes (as was the case around this time of the year last season), and taking unnecessary shots early in the shot clock. The Suns went to a zone when the reserves came in, and the three point shooting just increased. The Lakers didn’t have a problem moving the ball against the zone, but instead of attacking a shifting zone off of ball reversals, they continued to launch threes, leading to long rebounds and great Steve Nash passes. When the starters returned in the second quarter, the offense began to look like the triangle we’re used to seeing. Kobe and Pau were able to slow things down and work for better shots. By the end of the second quarter, Kobe began to take things over either scoring, or assisting on, all Lakers points in the final three minutes of the half, helping the Lakers go into the half up six.

Fast forward to the last moments of regulation. With a little over a minutes left, Kobe sunk a deep jump shot, putting the Lakers up by six (remember, they led by 21 in the third), which seemed to be the haymaker to put the game on ice. Instead, the Lakers miss a defensive assignment and leave Channing Frye wide open for a three pointer to cut the lead in half. The Lakers turn the ball over on a shot clock violation on the ensuing possession, giving the Suns an opportunity to send the game to overtime. Vince Carter missed a mid range jumper, but the Lakers allowed Grant Hill to grab the offensive rebound. He kicked out to Vince Carter who looked for the shot, but kicked over to Hill, who had ran to the corner and knocked down the game tying three-pointer. Overtime. The first of three.

At the end of the first overtime period, the Lakers were up again in a position to win, but another Suns offensive rebound led to Channing Frye getting fouled, beyond the three point line by Lamar Odom, with about a second left to play. Frye knocked down all three free throws and send the game into the second overtime. Toward the end of the second OT, Kobe found himself trapped way behind the basket, and threw a fantastic pass to Pau, who was fouled down by two with just a couple of seconds left on the clock. Pau knocked down both freebies and sent the game into a third overtime. The third overtime was brutal to watch. All of the guys on the floor were exhausted. There were at least seven missed shots around the rim combined from both teams, but in the end it was the Lakers who would come up with the big plays. First, Kobe hit a three pointer over Jared Dudley, which seemed to spark a little life back into the team. Then Ron Artest finished off a Laker fast break with a beautiful left-handed jam over Channing Frye. Finally, Artest hit a leaning 15-footer to put the Lakers up five. Channing Frye would hit another three pointer, but the Lakers would prevail in a thrilling triple over time win.

Despite Lamar Odom’s foolish foul at the end of the first overtime, he played a fantastic game finishing with 29 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and a block. He continued to make huge play after huge play throughout the course of the game and was easily the most consistent Laker on the floor tonight. Kobe finished one assist shy of a triple double and recorded 42 points, his first 40-point game since the Lakers loss to the Celtics at the end of January. Also, Matt Barnes had his most effective game since returning from the injury. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds, but as always, his contributions came in the form that aren’t found in the box score. While he was on the floor, the offense seem to move better with his constant slashing and cutting and he was on the ball, or very close to it in all 50/50 situations.

All-in-all, this was a good win for the Lakers. They survived the Bynum suspension with two wins — two tough wins that they had to gut out in the final minutes. Thankfully, they don’t play again until Friday against the Clippers.

Records: Lakers 50-20 (2nd in West), Suns 35-33 (10th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.5 (2nd in NBA), Suns 109.5 (9th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.4 (7th in NBA), Suns 109.8 (22nd in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Suns: Steve Nash, Vince Carter, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Robin Lopez
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks & Theo Ratliff (out); Suns: Gani Lawal (out)

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are coming off of a tough win that they had to gut out late in the fourth quarter against the Portland Trailblazers, one of their most impressive wins since the All-Star Break. It’s been widely reported that one of the Lakers biggest reasons for their post-break improvement was their new found commitment to defense — a commitment that began with Andrew Bynum. With ‘Drew out of the Portland game, many wondered if the Lakers ability to funnel opposing offenses to the middle of the court, forcing mid-range jumpers and contested looks around the rim would be as affective with out Bynum’s big body in the middle. Even without ‘Drew, the Lakers were able to hold the Blazers to 80 points, the ninth time since the break that they’ve been able to hold their opponent under 90 points.

Tonight, the Lakers will go into the game winners of four straight and 12 of their last 13 games. More importantly, they come into tonight’s game one game ahead of Dallas for the #2 seed out West and only a half game behind both Chicago and Boston for the #2 overall record in the NBA. While their recent success indicates that they’re playing the best, or at least close to it, basketball in the league right now, things aren’t exactly perfect. Kobe is still a bit hampered by his ankle, and if this Dave McMenamin report is accurate, we still may not know to what extent his ankle is bothering him. In the story, a team source told McMenamin that not only was Kobe’s knee drained that during the Oklahoma City first round playoff series, “but twice more — between the second round against Utah and the conference finals against Phoenix and again between Games 4 and 5 of the Finals.” This is just another thing we might want to keep an eye on as the end of the regular season rapidly approaches.

The Suns Coming in: The Suns haven’t been bad recently, but they definitely haven’t been good either, going .500 in their last 12 games. They’ve had some guys miss a couple games due to injury (notably Steve Nash and Channing Frye) and had Aaron Brooks sit out their game against the Clippers because of a suspension. Things have been rocky, to say the least, in Phoenix, a team fighting desperately for that eighth spot in the Western Conference. They come into tonight’s game, winners to two straight, but lost four straight before the two wins, a definite hit to their shot at the playoffs. Currently, the Suns are sitting in the 10th seed, just two and a half games behind Memphis, but have a tough five-game road stretch toward the end of the season, so every game for this team matters from here on out.

Suns Blogs: Valley of the Suns is a site worth your time if you want excellent thoughts on this team. Also check out Bright Side of the Sun.

Keys to game: I recently went back and watched Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, a game that featured Allen Iverson leading the 76ers to a win over the Lakers, scoring 48 points in the Lakers only loss of the post season. The Lakers didn’t lose that game because the 76ers were a better team, we know this because the Lakers went on to win the next four games. We know this because they faced a team that already knew that they were on their backs before the series even started. The amount of fight in the 76ers, for one game, was enough to put the Lakers on their heels and steal away the Lakers perfect post season. The Lakers were up big early in the first quarter, but didn’t deliver the seemingly imminent knockout punch. Instead, they allowed a team with more fight to stick around and ended up losing the game.

Tonight, the Lakers will be going up against a team in a much tougher fight than the Lakers are. The Lakers, with the Pacific Division already wrapped up, already know that they’ve made it to the postseason, they’re just playing for seeding. The Suns know, if that with every loss, the reality of them not even making the playoffs is a little bit closer to being realized. No, this isn’t exactly the same situation as that Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, if not only because the stakes aren’t even as close to being as high. But you do get the sense that, if the Lakers let this team hang around, they could lose this game, and more importantly, lose some ground on the Mavericks, Celtics and Bulls. With that being said, if the Lakers get the opportunity to put this Suns team out of its misery early, they absolutely need to. And of course, it all boils down to how they play on the defensive end.

The Lakers got a recent taste of a little of what the Suns may be doing tonight when they played the Orlando Magic. In that game, Stan Van Gundy opted to start Ryan Anderson to move Pau out of the paint. When Pau didn’t come out far enough, Anderson knocked down threes, when Pau did close out, the ball went in to Dwight Howard for an ISO on the block against Bynum. The Suns won’t have the same kind of post presence with Robin Lopez on the low blocks, but Channing Frye is the kind of forward that can extend the defense and make teams pay if left open. One of the positives of not having Bynum for tonight’s match up is that the versatile Lamar Odom will likely be assigned the role of covering Frye out on the wing, leaving Pau comfortably on the defensive block.

Other than Frye, the Suns have four more guys shooting at least 37 percent from behind the arch, and one more (Vince Carter) shooting 34 percent. Running guys off of the three point line will be key, as it always is, against the Suns. In their last meeting, a 99-95 Lakers win, they didn’t do a great job of running guys off of the three-point line as six different Suns hit at least one three, and three of them hit multiple threes. The Suns shot 47 percent from behind the arch while shooting only 42 percent from all two-point shots from three feet and beyond. Simple math suggests that the Lakers need to force the Suns to take more shots from two point range, not only because the Suns shot better from three, but in the occasion that they did score from inside the arch, they received one fewer point. Funneling the likes of Steve Nash and Aaron Brooks toward the middle is never easy, as they frequently tend to get where they want when they want, but the defense cannot get sucked into watching these guys put on a show and get caught sleeping while guarding shooters. If the Lakers bear down defensively, the offense will come naturally. This is a team that tends to make shots when they’re in a good defensive flow.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Fox Sports West. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am. Update: You can also view this game nationally on TNT.

From Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: For the past three or four years, the Kobe-LeBron debate has been at the forefront of NBA discussions as players, coaches, experts, fans and media members have all shared their opinions on which player they thought was better. James has owned Bryant in their head-to-head regular season match-ups, whereas the Black Mamba has won the proverbial games that matter, helping the Los Angeles Lakers earn the last two NBA titles. These players have never once competed against each other in the playoffs and yet will be linked with one another for the rest of their careers. Tupac Shakur’s Hit ‘Em Up will always be mentioned with Biggie’s Who Shot Ya, much like Jay-Z’s Takeover will always be in the same conversation as Nas’s Ether. We might just have a new addition to the list that involves how we perceive and remember LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: The Decision

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: Every once in a while, the circumstances and events of life require us all to take a good hard look in the mirror and analyze an aspect of our being that isn’t necessarily what we want it to be.  Sometimes, if we’re honest, we don’t particularly like what we see.  This is one of those times.  Ladies and gentlemen, fine patrons of Silver Screen and Roll, we need to be honest with ourselves about something … Andrew Bynum has a bit of a mean streak. Drew doesn’t exactly qualify to be a head of state in the Axis of Evil or anything, but our young big man has a growing list of incidents in which his participation was neither innocent nor benign.  Friday’s flagrant foul on Michael Beasley was the latest, and most egregiously blatant, incident, but we’ve seen similar plays out of Bynum in the past.

From C.A. Clark, SBNation: Last week, GQ released a list of the worst fans in sports.  Clocking in at No. 15 were the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the only NBA team to make the list.  Whereas all the other teams listed achieved their villainy through a combination of rowdiness and excessive vitriol, Lakers fans are apparently guilty of the exact opposite: they aren’t devoted enough to the cause. GQ calls the Lakers’ fanbase the fairest of fair weather fans, citing two separate instances (after the retirement of Magic Johnson, and again after the trade of Shaquille O’Neal) in which Laker Nation suddenly shrank, only to grow again a few years later once the Lakers managed to rebuild.  Also referenced was the environment of your average Lakers game, in which a fair number of the “fans” close to the court are more interested in their phones and the people sitting courtside than in the game itself.

From Janis Carr, OC Register: By now, the Lakers (and fans) are used to Derek Fisher’s late-game heroics, whether it be a key pass or game-winning shot with mere seconds remaining. Maybe they are too used to it. Kobe Bryant said Fisher has been playing like that since the two of them entered the league in 1996 and he has come to rely on the 36-year-old guard’s sense of order down the stretch. Bryant said he realized how much he leans on Fisher during those three seasons when Fisher played elsewhere. So you missed him? “What, instead of throwing it to Smush (Parker)? Yeah. I would shoot with three (men) on me. Now I shoot with one or two (players guarding him),” Bryant said after Monday’s practice.

From Broderick Turner, LA Times: The Lakers really can’t fully quantify the value of Lamar Odom. His coach, Phil Jackson, said Odom has been “invaluable” to the team. When Odom was a free agent, Jackson urged the organization to re-sign him. The Lakers and Odom agreed to a four-year, $33-million deal in July 2009. Otherwise, the Lakers might not be back-to-back champions and be talking seriously about winning a third straight NBA championship, Jackson said. “We made a decision as an organization two years ago to sign Lamar, which put us in a difficult [salary] cap situation,” Jackson said. “Yet we’re convinced that without him, we wouldn’t win a championship again. That was a good decision by the organization.”

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Displaying the same aggressiveness he uses when fighting through double teams and grabbing rebounds, Lakers center Andrew Bynum rushed past the assembled media Monday after the Lakers’ practice. That left everyone else on the team to explain how Bynum’s handled his two-game suspension for getting a flagrant foul, type 2, after throwing Minnesota forward Michael Beasley with his right forearm. The assessment sounded fairly mixed. “He was frustrated,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

With the post season rapidly approaching, we’re nearing the point where the regular season awards will be voted on. Over a series of posts, I’ll make my argument for a specific Laker to win an award or be included on one of the All-NBA or Defensive teams. Today, my take on why Lamar Odom should win the Sixth Man of the Year award.

I understand that with any regular season award there are several viable candidates.  And in terms of the Sixth Man of the Year award, this year is no different. Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, George Hill, Shawn Marion, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Ty Lawson all having very good seasons and helping their respective teams win games. They’re relied upon to be the first (or second) man off their teams’ benches and expected to produce in tangible and intangible ways to help their squads. I think any team would be lucky to employ the above list of players, they’d surely have a better team for it.

That said, Lamar Odom should win the Sixth Man of the Year award.

I won’t delve into the numbers here because others have already done that very well, making convincing cases for LO. Check out this post for a clear look at how Odom compares to some of the above listed players. Or this one to see how some of the top candidates perform in different parts of the game. Heady cases both of those articles are, and worth your time.

Instead, I’m here to talk about Odom’s role on the Lakers and how, even beyond the tangible numbers, he’s been key to the Lakers success.

As I’ve mentioned several times over the past few years, Odom’s versatility allows the Lakers to play multiple styles without sacrificing talent. On offense, Odom is an initiator of the Lakers sets and allows the other versatile pieces on the roster to spread their wings and work different parts of the court to be most effective.

This is most evident in how, with Odom bringing the ball up the court and facilitating the offense, Kobe Bryant can move out of the two guard front of the Triangle and into his sweet spots of the elbow and weak side low block where he can take advantage of his mid-range and excellent low post games. As has been proven countless times over the years, when Kobe is isolated at the elbow or the low block, defenses are put in the difficult position of having to choose between single covering him or coming with a double team. What rarely gets mentioned however, is how the Lakers are able to put a guard into these positions on the floor without sacrificing floor balance or spacing. The key is Odom, as his versatility allows Kobe to move off the ball and into positions where he can focus solely on working over a compromised D.

But Odom’s ability as an offensive initiator isn’t his only valued skill in the Triangle. He’s also a tremendous finisher with an innate understanding of spacing, timing, and how to work off other offensive threats to make himself available as a finisher. How many times have we seen Odom perfectly time a cut off the ball, receive a pass from Kobe or Pau, and finish inside? How many times have we seen him use a screen to curl into the lane and get an easy dish that he converts for an easy deuce? Or how about the times that he’s working sideline P&R’s with Gasol and he either swoops into the paint for a lay in or dishes last second to Pau or another teammate for an easy finish? The fact is that Odom’s ability as a finisher perfectly complements his teammates and he’s able to consistently do damage both with or without the ball in his hands. The fact that the Lakers don’t have to run plays for Odom but still reap the rewards of him as a finisher is one of the most underrated part of his success.

Defensively, though, is where I think Odom really makes an unheralded impact. The fact is that most times, when looking at this award voters only focus on one end of the floor. However, when looking at Odom, that’d be doing him and his contributions a major disservice. Odom is very good at defending the P&R and is one of the few big men who more than holds his own when needing to switch onto ball handlers on the perimeter. Beyond outright switching out onto wing players, though, he’s also excellent at showing help and then recovering back to his own man, or rotating to a teammate’s man to keep the integrity of the Lakers’ schemes. This year he’s also been much better at stepping in and taking charges beyond being a threat to block shots from the weakside (or even on the ball). When you throw in his top 15 rebounding numbers, you have a player who’s impacting the game a great deal on defense with few metrics actually available to measure it.

Lastly, there are arguments to be made about other players being a “closer” for their team. I know that Jason Terry is an elite scoring option in 4th quarters for the Mavs and is often a player that hits big shots for his team down the stretch of close games. However, Odom too is a closer for the Lakers. Many times, it’s he – not Bynum – that is in at the end of games as his versatility on both sides of the ball is valued by Phil Jackson. Just last Friday against the Timberwolves, it was Odom who hit a three-pointer that pushed a three-point lead to six with only two and a half minutes remaining. He then again hit a big jumper with a little over a minute to go to make a five-point lead seven. This type of late game production has happened a lot this season, but with Kobe, Gasol, and even Fisher all on this team there isn’t a lot of room for recognition of late game heroics.

In the end, Odom has the numbers but he also has had a tremendous impact on the Lakers beyond those numbers. His versatility makes it so he can be a highlighted player or one who contributes in the background. He helps slot players into different roles where they can excel, all while molding his game to fit the teammates he’s playing next to. In essense, he’s been the ultimate Sixth Man and he deserves this award.