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Full rebound from injury eludes Odom

Times Staff Writer

Lamar Odom was playing high-caliber basketball the first 21 games of the season. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson even told him this was his season to make the All-Star team.

Then Odom landed awkwardly after an off-balance shot and suffered a sprained knee ligament in a non-contact injury Dec. 12 in Houston.

He has played 11 games since returning last month, and the results haven’t been as promising for him or the Lakers, who are 3-8 during the span.

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Odom’s pre-injury averages of 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists a game have shifted to 14.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He is shooting only 39.7% since his return.

The last shot in the Lakers’ 107-106 loss Tuesday to New York was diagramed for Odom. He shot an airball from 21 feet at the buzzer.

He has grown frustrated, unable to do the things that came naturally and efficiently at the start of the season. A slight case of chronic tendinitis in his knee has been exacerbated because he was not able to maintain leg strength during his recovery time. He is probably two more weeks from being fully healthy.

Jackson said recently that Odom was playing at 80% to 85% his usual strength. Odom isn’t providing percentages, although he paused when asked Wednesday how he was feeling.

“I’m playing,” he said. “It takes some time to get back to where you were.”

The Lakers will wait and hope for the return of the early-season Odom, but the sooner the better, obviously, for him and his teammates.

“I’m sure he’s not happy with his game,” Jackson said. “We know he can play better than that. We’re going to make every effort to make sure he’s right physically and mentally.”

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How rare were the circumstances surrounding the Lakers’ loss to New York?

Eddy Curry’s dunk with 7.1 seconds left made him one of only two players in the last 10 years to make a field goal in the final 10 seconds and give his team a one-point victory over the Lakers on the road, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Antoine Walker made a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give Boston a 109-108 victory at Staples Center in February 2002.

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Are the Lakers ready for the All-Star break?

“It won’t hurt us,” Jackson said. “Let’s put it that way.”

*

TONIGHT

vs. Cleveland, 7:30, TNT

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 30-23, Cavaliers 30-21.

Record vs. Cavaliers -- 0-1.

Update -- Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas isn’t expected to play because of personal reasons. Kobe Bryant had 36 points and LeBron James 18 in Cleveland’s 99-90 win over the Lakers on Sunday.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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