For the third consecutive game, Lamar Odom was underwhelming.
The two points and two rebounds Odom delivered Friday night against Minnesota came on the heels of two points and 13 rebounds against Memphis and four points and six rebounds against Phoenix. He missed 11 of 15 shots in the three games.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had a succinct answer when asked whether he was concerned about Odom’s decline: “Yes.”
Jackson noticed Odom changed his free-throw approach against Minnesota, and that led to a conversation, with Jackson saying Odom may have “got up on the wrong side of the bed or something happened to him.
“We know he can have little sessions of doubt or doldrums or whatever. He’ll get it back.”
Odom tinkered with his free-throw shooting, saying he tried to “baby the basketball a little bit,” which caused him to miss all four attempts.
The Lakers didn’t practice Saturday, but Odom’s plan was to head to the team’s practice facility that night to work on his free throws.
His game had flourished after center Andrew Bynum went down because of a knee injury Jan. 31, Odom’s play raising eyebrows over a 14-game stretch. He averaged 16.2 points on 53.4% shooting, and 12.8 rebounds. He had a string of four consecutive games in which he increased his rebounding total, from 17 to 18 to 19 to 20.
Now Odom is in a mini-tailspin, and his playing time has dwindled to 26 minutes over the last three games versus 35.9 during his upswing.
He understands that fans pay close attention to his statistics.
“But I don’t get like, ‘Oh, man, I only scored two,’ ” said Odom, who is in the last year of a contract that’s on the Lakers’ books for $14.1 million. “It’s going to hurt because they’ll say, ‘Lamar Odom averages such-and-such when Bynum went down.’ My friends be calling me, saying, ‘C’mon, man, you’ve got to score more than two. You know you’ve got to keep that up.’ Naw, I’ve got to play good basketball.”
Sixty-two games into the regular season and the Lakers still have defensive issues.
They will get back to work today in an attempt to shore up a defense that gives up 100.4 points per game, ranking 13th in the NBA before Saturday night’s games.
With road games this week against Portland, Houston and San Antonio, Jackson said the Lakers will work on their rotations and double teams in the post.
“We’re a good defensive team that’s definitely proved that we have the potential to be a great defensive team,” forward Luke Walton said. “But we are not a great defensive team yet. We are working toward that.”