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LAKERS REPORT

Odom is back, but he's just visiting

January 01, 2007|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers finally returned to Staples Center. So did Lamar Odom, but only for a quick drop-in.

The Lakers forward missed his 10th game Sunday because of a sprained ligament in his knee. He is out until at least Jan. 10, and possibly until early February, although there seems to be no rush as long as the Lakers hover seven to nine games above .500.

"It's getting better," Odom said. "It's still going to take some time, though, a little longer than I expected. I've got to wait until I'm ready. I want to play at 100%. This is something that I don't want to have happen again."

Odom's statement was incomplete with context: The day he went down -- Dec. 12 against Houston -- he said he hoped to be back in "maybe a week or two."

He wore a knee brace for a week and a half, but now walks without one. "It's not really painful," he said. "It's just, some ways I can't move it."

The Lakers won't press him. They are 6-5 without him, counting a win at Houston the night he got hurt.

"I'm very happy that we're able to sustain some wins without Lamar," Coach Phil Jackson said. "He's a major part of this team. He's a guy that creates things. A big, mobile player like that is such a tough guy to defend that the replacement of him is very difficult for us."

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Jackson has prodded Kwame Brown and Vladimir Radmanovic in recent days, but he was concerned about a former player he also zinged lately.

"I worry about Shaq," he said, partly joking, referring to Shaquille O'Neal. "I hope he hasn't lost any sleep over the comments that we had together. Vlade's a person that I've been challenging since day one in training camp. I think it's good that he has got a public challenge because he's a guy that we went out to get and he is really a talented player that we'd like to see be consistent in this situation, particularly without Lamar."

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Jackson said he didn't believe in New Year's resolutions because "none of them ever came to fruition." He used to take the holiday seriously as a child, going to New Year's Eve services for 90 minutes. "I grew up in a Pentecostal household and we used to pray the old year out and the new year in," he said.

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Lakers players weren't the only ones measuring their general well being after a six-game, 12-day trip. Jackson hadn't been on a trip longer than two games since undergoing hip-replacement surgery in October.

"This was the first trip it's been sustained almost two weeks," he said. "It's been tough." He added that athletic performance coordinator Alex McKechnie "has been doing a lot of therapy with me to keep me in shape."

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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