Lamar Odom makes it a benchmark game for Lakers

Since it was Lamar Odom who said the Lakers’ bench was ranked 28th in the NBA, it was only fitting that the media searched for the stats to see if he was right.

Odom was close.

The Lakers’ bench finished the regular season ranked 27th, scoring 26.2 points per game as a unit.

“Yeah, that’s disappointing to hear,” Odom said.

The Lakers’ bench has continued to be inconsistent during the Western Conference playoffs, so much so that Odom called out his bench mates after Game 1 of the series against the Utah Jazz because the Lakers’ substitutes blew a fourth-quarter lead.

The Lakers’ bench was better in Game 2, especially Odom.

He was aggressive as soon as he stepped onto the court, his playing going a long way in helping the Lakers defeat the Jazz, 111-103, Tuesday night at Staples Center to open a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Odom finished with 11 points, 15 rebounds, three blocked shots and four assists in 28 minutes.

“Lamar just has to find a groove out there to play in,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “His role now is to kind of play with that second unit and find a way to kind of get involved in that second unit.

“I think he feels he needs to score perhaps or has to do some different type of things to be productive or to help them go in that direction.”

The Jazz bench was ranked 13th during the regular season, scoring 31.9 points per game.

Utah got another big game from reserve Paul Millsap, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes.

All of the Lakers’ reserves are quick to point out that statistics don’t tell the entire story.

But it was just two seasons ago the Lakers called themselves the “Bench Mob.”

Now, the Lakers’ bench is near the bottom of the NBA.

“That’s in the past,” Luke Walton said. “Those stats don’t matter anymore. It’s all about what we do from this point on.”

Like Game 1, Jackson had reserves Odom, Walton, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar on the court along with Andrew Bynum to start the fourth quarter in Game 2.

They were asked to protect a 10-point lead.

The Jazz sliced it to six points before Odom scored on a dunk and Brown found Farmar for a three-pointer to increase the lead to 11 points.

“In order for us to be effective as possible and really be consistent, our bench has to play as a unit,” Walton said. “We have to make the extra pass and execute the offense.”

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