10:42 PM PST, February 6, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Clippers' biggest sweetheart needs to get nastier.
Drive to the basket as if his defender has just made a Kardashian joke.
Use his superior length to bury teams under a flurry of floaters.
Stop passing up shots instead of always passing.
Lamar Odom, get assertive.
A prolific scorer as recently as two seasons ago, the veteran forward is now as likely to reach double figures in points as end-of-the-bench reserve Ryan Hollins. They have each done it once this season.
Even with starters Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and super sub Jamal Crawford sidelined Wednesday at Amway Center, taking a combined 59.3 points off the board for the Clippers, Odom took only six shots and scored eight points during an 86-76 victory over the equally short-handed Orlando Magic.
He did his usual all-around thing, collecting a career-high six steals to go with five rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes while making a second consecutive start.
The Clippers need more. They need shots. They need points.
They're not getting enough in either category from a player whose scoring output against the Magic represented more than twice his season average of 3.8 points.
"He has such great versatility and can do things for us," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said, "but right now we need him to score a little bit more and be a little bit more aggressive, and he knows that."
On the Clippers' second possession Wednesday, Odom drove toward the basket … and passed to Willie Green in the corner, the ball going out of bounds for a turnover.
Not long afterward, teammate Matt Barnes stood up from the bench and yelled, "L.O., be aggressive!"
Odom spent much of the game lingering on the perimeter, setting screens and swinging the ball to teammates. Two of the three shots he made were jumpers at the end of the shot clock.
"Sometimes being passive hurts the team," he said, "so if I have space I'm just going to let it fly."
Maybe that's the answer: Get Odom the ball with no choice but to shoot.
He does realize he needs to take more shots, right?
"I mean, there's a time and place for everything," Odom said. "So it's all about making the right basketball play. And sometimes the right basketball play is to look at the basket and make plays and sometimes the right basketball play is to move it and get people involved. With this team, I have to find that happy medium.
"But, of course, when guys go out you might have to do a little bit more of whatever it is. Whatever I need to do to win the game, that's what I'm going to do."
The Clippers could use more scoring from Odom even when their injured quartet returns, providing another offensive option off the bench besides Crawford and Barnes.
At this rate, they won't get it from a player whose shots and scoring have experienced only a slight uptick even since he worked himself into decent shape about a month ago. Odom is taking only 4.5 shots a game, continuing a steep drop-off for a player who averaged 10.9 shots two years ago with the Lakers and 7.0 during last season's Dallas debacle.
"It's really not in his nature to be a selfish basketball player," Barnes said. "He's one of those guys that can do everything to fill up the stat sheet."
Being a little light in the points column doesn't bother Odom, who averaged 14.4 points in his final season as a Laker.
"I won sixth man of the year, but my team got swept in the second round," Odom said, shrugging as if to indicate how little his award meant given the Lakers' playoff unraveling in 2011. "I think you have to know your place and understand protocol. If I was to get touches and shots the same way, there's no doubt in my mind [the scoring would be there], but that's not my role on this team.
"I'm always going to be one of the best basketball players out there. Because that's what I am: more than a scorer or a rebounder or a passer. I'm a complete basketball player."
Odom doesn't need to reinvent himself over the season's final few months. He can just go back to what has worked for so many years.
The Clippers' fortunes might depend on it.
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