O.C. Register: The career-long question for Lamar Odom is this: What are you?
Scorer? Rebounder? Passer? Leader? Facilitator? Main man?
On nights like this, the answer is simple: Yes.
Because, in the fourth game of Western Conference finals, with a howling crowd and a frowning NBA champion threatening to slither into his head, Odom went on an eight-point flurry that raised the Lakers’ lead from two to seven with :56 left, and put the Spurs into a tight corral. Which, of course, is where they showed their brand.
The Lakers botched the math in the final minute. Kobe Bryant took a quick shot when he could have used the clock to lock the door. Odom goaltended a shot by Tony Parker — “I thought I had him, I was going to be like Tayshaun Prince, coming from behind,” he said.
And Brent Barry found himself with the ball in 3-point land and a chance to actually win outright. Because Derek Fisher body-blocked him in the collarbone, his 3-point try didn’t even sideswipe the hoop, and the Lakers trotted off with a 93-91 victory, a 3-1 lead in the series, and another ace on another test. One more, and it’s a Finals exam.
“We’re getting an education,” Odom said later. “We’re playing a team with the heart of a champion, but we’re making plays for each other. We’re very tight, we have camaraderie. And we have a lot of people who can show us how to win.