Lakers' Lamar Odom fights off the Rockets -- and a nasty bug

Lamar Odom eased into the Lakers' locker room before Tuesday night's game, leaning against the wall for support, short of breath.

He sat down, hung his head and tried to speak but was barely audible. He still was fighting off the intestinal-flu symptoms that had caused him to miss practice Monday.

Odom struggled with his strength and stamina, feeling weak throughout Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets. But he fought through his illness to produce a near triple-double in helping the Lakers to an 88-79 victory at Staples Center.

Odom knew the Lakers were in need of bodies, with Pau Gasol (strained left hamstring) out and with Ron Artest playing for the first time since Christmas Day after he missed five games with a concussion.

Odom stepped into the void, delivering 17 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.

"I probably needed that. I needed to sweat that stuff out," Odom said after the game. "I ain't feeling better, but it helps move it along."

He made seven of 10 shots and had five offensive rebounds and one block.

His 19 rebounds were a season high and three shy of his career high.

When asked to comment on Odom's performance, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson supplied an answer only he could.

"It makes me very proud of my son, Lamar," Jackson said, laughing. "He knew we were at a deficit tonight without Pau, and D.J. [Mbenga] was sick. . . . We were short big guys, and he stayed in there and fought."

Odom woke up Monday feeling miserable and headed to the doctor.

"There was no need sitting in bed wallowing, like, 'Why me?' " Odom said, smiling. "But my body was aching."

Still, Odom started the game strong.

He had 13 rebounds by the half.

"I just kind of always focus on that, rebounding," Odom said. "I always feel like when I have a good rebounding game then I can play well."

Odom found just enough strength to get it done for the Lakers, who play the Clippers tonight.

He scored on a dunk off a Ron Artest pass in the third quarter.

Odom even posted up former teammate Trevor Ariza, did a drop-step and scored with a left-handed layup, giving the Lakers a 59-52 lead.

With 5:17 left in fourth, Odom threw a lob to Andrew Bynum for a basket that pushed the lead to 10 points.

Odom took a pass from Kobe Bryant and scored on a left-handed layup while being fouled. He made the free throw for a three-point play.

Odom started his sixth consecutive game.

But it was his first start at power forward during that time, which shows how versatile Odom is.

"That's why I stayed here to play for this team and try to repeat as champions," said Odom, who signed a four-year, $33-million contract extension this summer. "You never know with the season being so long. You've got injuries that are just a play away for all of us. That's why it's important to have a strong team, depth. I take pride in being a strong sixth man."

Odom was asked one last question.

Why didn't he get the triple-double?

He paused and smiled.

"Time ran out," Odom said. "Yeah, time ran out."

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