If the Lakers are going to make a serious run at the playoffs, they are going to need Lamar Odom to play the way he did in Friday's win over Detroit.
Odom was a force on both ends of the court and showed the type of skills that makes him so valuable to a team.
Just check out the box score: Odom, 25 points on nine-for-15 shooting from the field and a game-high 15 rebounds in 39 minutes and 22 seconds of playing time.
Not bad for a player still trying to knock the rust off.
"I still have a ways to go," said Odom, who has played in four games after being sidelined since the start of training camp because of a shoulder injury.
"My timing is still a little bit off and I am not taking care of the ball like I usually do . . . I'm rushing. It's funny but in basketball, when you're timing is off, that's everything."
Odom's timing appeared fine when he dug into his bag of New York City playground moves and fooled Detroit rookie big man Cheikh Samb with a ball fake before scoring a layup in the second half.
"I was just being aggressive," Odom said about a move that drew big cheers from Lakers fans, "the show 'em the ball and take it to the hole [move]."
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was impressed with Odom's performance against the Pistons.
"His first game, he played pretty good and then the next couple of games in between there, he seemed uncomfortable," Jackson said. "Last night he played in the flow of the game. He did a great job."
One advantage the Lakers have with Odom at small forward is his offensive rebounding. Since he's bigger and stronger than most small forwards, Odom can make his presence felt. He did that well against Detroit, finishing with a game-high nine offensive rebounds.
"It is a little different at power forward [because] you're parked under the basket and the ball seems to find you," Odom said. "At small forward, you have to go find the ball because you are on the outside, you have to locate the ball and come back to it."
Offensive rebounds were key for the Lakers against Detroit, as they held a 23-14 advantage.
"When you get offensive rebounds, it shows that you are playing physical and you're in control of the ball a lot," Odom said.
The Lakers average 13.86 offensive rebounds, which ranked third in the NBA as of Saturday.
Kobe Bryant's defense has earned a lot of attention this season, thanks to highlight blocks on San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Houston's Yao Ming, but his effort against Detroit's Richard Hamilton was worth noting.
Hamilton, slowed because of foul trouble most of the game, finished with 16 points on six-for-13 shooting. Bryant's tight defense helped force Hamilton into five turnovers.
"That's a great rivalry," Jackson said. "A couple of years ago in the playoffs . . . everything Kobe did against Hamilton was a foul. So he couldn't lay a hand on him. Last night, he was able to play physically."
But Jackson added Bryant's defense does need improvement.
"Most of the time, when Kobe has someone elite [to defend] like Hamilton, who [gets] his attention, that's a good thing," Jackson said.
"But some of the other situations that we've had, where the player is perhaps not the go-to guy or is kind of an auxiliary guy, Kobe then is in a help situation and he may lose track of the importance of staying with a guy like that."
vs. Chicago, 6:30, FSN West
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 570; 1330.
Records -- Lakers 5-3; Bulls 2-6.
Record vs. Bulls (2006-07) -- 1-1.
Update -- Lakers' power forward Ronny Turiaf, who was inactive for Friday's game against Detroit, is questionable because of a left ankle injury. The Bulls beat the Clippers on Saturday for their first road win.