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Odom blames himself for on-court struggles

Times Staff Writer

The excuses are there for Lamar Odom to use, but he chooses to ignore them.

New position? New role in the Lakers offense? Still working into basketball shape?

He points his finger at none of the above, only at himself.

“My game is based on versatility, so whether I have the ball or not, I have to come through and make plays,” he said Monday. “I won’t use that as an excuse. I’ve just been playing bad.”

Odom’s averages are down across the board. His 16-point effort Sunday against New Jersey was a mini-breakout, an unusual concept for a player with his career numbers.

For his career, he averages 15.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game. This season, Odom is averaging 12.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists.

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He recently went through a ragged four-game stretch in which he averaged 7.8 points and almost as many postgame self-critiques.

Odom said he “played like trash” and called himself a “bum” after a dour outing in Milwaukee in which he had eight points on three-for-11 shooting. He followed that up with four points in 32 minutes against Boston.

He no longer brings the ball upcourt as a point forward and is trying to make do as a stand-still shooter at small forward.

Odom, who turned 28 three weeks ago, did not play in any exhibitions while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and he missed the first four regular-season games before finally suiting up. He appeared to be ready after a 25-point, 15-rebound effort Nov. 16 against Detroit, but then the points stopped coming.

“This year, I came in expecting a lot,” he said. “Hopefully, the worst is behind me.”

The logical solution would be more post-up opportunities for Odom, who is listed at 6 feet 10 and typically has a few inches on other small forwards.

“He just has to find his way around the offense in a position that gives him an advantage,” Coach Phil Jackson said. “His advantage a lot of times is the post opportunity.”

Jackson has a message for Kobe Bryant -- shoot the ball.

Bryant has made only 43 of 108 shots (39.8%) the last six games, but Jackson wants him to be more aggressive with his shot instead of trying to lure defenders into fouling him.

“Kobe’s reputation is such that most everybody’s staying down on his pump-fakes, not getting up in the air,” Jackson said. “He just has to get his shot back in order so that he’s taking a shot, not worrying about getting guys up off the floor, trying to create a [free-throw] situation for himself.”

Odom, on the Lakers’ ups-and-downs being attributed to youth: “No one was saying we were young when we were 7-3, right? We can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve got veterans on the team.”

--

TONIGHT

vs. Seattle, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 7-6, SuperSonics 2-12.

Record vs. SuperSonics (2006-07) -- 3-1.

Update -- Rookie Kevin Durant is averaging 18.9 points, perhaps the only good news for the SuperSonics, who are losing by an average of 12.5 points. --

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com


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