While Pau Gasol has only made 4 baskets in the first two games, and Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have struggled shooting the ball. Ron Artest has been the most consistent for the Lakers thus far in the playoffs.
Its only been two games but Artest is shooting 46% from the field, while averaging 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds in 34.5 minutes per game.
“I know I’m getting older, so I’m trying to conserve energy,” Artest said. ”
“When I was younger, I worked out too much,” Artest said. “It affected my game. I never had energy in the game. In the playoffs last year, I was working out a lot, but then I stopped. I saved my energy for the game. I had big games and big shooting games, and it wasn’t because I was working on my shot. I learned how to rest and stay in shape.”
The debate may all but be dead, after Artest was such a big factor in winning Game 7 of the NBA Finals last year. But, there was a time where people didn’t like letting go of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest.
Trevor Ariza in two games vs. the Lakers has shot 36% from the field, while averaging 14 points, and 7 rebounds, in 40.5 minutes per game. If the two games vs. each other are any indication, the Lakers made the right decision.
Lamar Odom stood by the Laker bench before the game, with Mitch Kupchak at center court getting ready to present him with the Sixth Man of the Year trophy. Odom looked to his left at his captain, Kobe Bryant, who gave him a fist bump to go along with a giant smile. Bryant knows what Odom means to this Laker team, and after receiving the award in front of the fans who had supported his place on the bench, the Lakers’ sixth man played a signature all-around game that helped his team even the series; you know, just in case there were still any doubters out there.
If not for Odom’s contributions tonight, the Hornets may have led the series 2-zip heading to New Orleans. Unlike in Game 1 where Kobe Bryant dominated with his offense, the Lakers’ captain spent the evening trying to get his teammates involved, not to mention chasing Chris Paul around. With Pau Gasol still unable to find his game (8 points on 2-10, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks), it was up to the other Lakers to lead the way, and helping to lead the charge off the bench was none other than Lamar Odom. Odom had 16 points on 8-12, seven rebounds, two assists and a block. He laid up a lob from Bryant, received the ball in transition from Shannon Brown from a fast break layup, and then grabbed a defensive board and made his way directly to the hoop for a floater with poor, unfortunate Jason Smith attempting to deter him. Jason Smith vs. Lamar Odom – it’s as unfair a match as you can imagine.
In the regular season, one loss to the New Orleans Hornets, even at home, would be considered trivial, inconsequential to the big picture. Unfortunately, it’s the playoffs and, well, the big picture is 16 wins away and the Lakers are still looking to scratch one off the list.
No matter how the Lakers try to spin that loss (they don’t play well in afternoon games, the Hornets wanted to win more, etc), the fact remains, they were beaten in the post-season as a #2 seed by a #7 seed who has absolutely no one to contend with their size. Two of the Lakers’ greatest advantages, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, played so small, the team could have certainly loss that game without their help.
The Hornets held Gasol to just eight points, by keeping him around the perimeter, and rather than going at the basket aggressively and getting physical with the New Orleans bigs, he stayed out of his most productive place on the court – the paint.
It has been reported that the Phoenix Suns did a similar PSA, about words being hurtful. According, to NBA commissioner David Stern, the league was planning on doing bullying type PSA’s before the incident with Kobe Bryant and referee Bennie Adams.
He didn’t have to stand for it. He could have complained to the coaching staff, run his mouth off to the media and pouted in games until he got his way. But as many of us who have kept a close watch of his demeanor off the court, and stand in amazement at his abilities on it, we’ve learned that anger and defiance are not the materials with which Lamar Odom is built. He is, instead, made purely of team-first mentality and a can-do attitude, and for this way of life on the hardwood, he is more than just deserving of this season’s Sixth Man of the Year Award; he is long overdue for it.
Receiving the vast majority of first place votes, and creating a large gap between him and second place, Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks, Odom is finally being rewarded for what his individual accomplishments have contributed to his teams. Though this award is theoretically based on what he did for the Lakers this 2010-2011 season, and how his performance stood relative to other reserves in the NBA, this recognition began long before the first game of the season. It started last summer with Team USA.
It can’t be said enough how Odom’s participation, along with Chauncey Billups’, helped the United States finally attain that gold medal in the 2010 World Champions. It was not only a testament to the good example that Odom provided for his much younger teammates, but it was a display of his ability to lead, something that’s not always needed on a Lakers team with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. The gold medal gave Team USA an automatic bid to the 2012 Summer Olympics. Unlike the 2008 Men’s Basketball team, 2012’s team doesn’t need to play in a qualifying tournament before the opening ceremonies in London.
And what he has given to this Lakers team, especially in the last three finals runs, can’t be heralded enough.
“A lot of people don’t know that Lamar Odom is probably the most popular player in our locker room,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in today’s press conference. “And that’s not because of the way he plays basketball. It’s because of who he is.”
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Lamar Odom is the winner of the 2010-11 KIA NBA Sixth Man Award as the league’s best player in a reserve role, the NBA announced today. Odom, the first Lakers player to win the award, came off the bench in 47 contests and appeared in all 82 contests.
Odom received 513 of a possible 585 points, including 96 of a possible 117 first-place votes, from a panel of 117 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. For the second consecutive season, Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks finished second with 244 points. Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers finished third with 76 points.
In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.
As a reserve, Odom averaged 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in 28.4 minutes; he recorded 12 double-doubles as a sub. Overall, Odom averaged 14.4 points on .530 shooting, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 32.2 minutes. He recorded 28 double-doubles on the season, scored in double digits 63 times, and netted at least 20 points 14 times.
This would mark Lamar Odom’s very first NBA award in his 12 year career, and the first Laker to win the award in team history. In arguably his most productive season as a player.
With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.