The Lamar Odom experiment trudges along, slowly and shakily.
The Lakers' most versatile player had more fouls (five) than points or assists as a primary ball-handler on offense and small forward on defense in Tuesday's exhibition game against Utah.
Odom was in the starting lineup, a point of contention for him because Coach Phil Jackson suggested he might come off the bench, but his stats were insignificant other than the fouls.
In 20 minutes, Odom had three points, five rebounds and three assists.
Assistant coach Kurt Rambis said Odom's game was "fair to middling, maybe poor," and that Odom "didn't seem focused out there."
Jackson took it a step further.
"I just got through telling him that this is really basketball now," Jackson said Wednesday. "He looks like he's either curling or doing some other kind of sport. He's not playing basketball.
"The first shot he took was a three-pointer in the middle of the third quarter? That was pretty interesting."
Jackson was non-committal when asked whether Odom would continue handling the ball.
"We still have some time to go with this," he said. "We'll see how it goes."
The Lakers have seven more exhibition games, including tonight against the Clippers in Fresno.
Odom had two turnovers against Utah, which actually wasn't bad compared to the 24 the team logged in the 99-90 loss.
As a playmaker, Odom found Trevor Ariza for a dunk, but seemed a step slow getting back on defense.
"It's all right for him to push the basketball, but then he's also got to turn around defensively and guard a much smaller, quicker ballplayer," Rambis said. "He's got to be able to adjust to that."
Asked about his point total, Odom laughed.
"Nobody won a scoring title the first game of the year," he said.
Odom later shrugged off the game in general.
"First preseason game," he said. "We've got a lot more to go. Bad game, good game, whatever, that's all it is -- first game."
Jackson in action
Jackson was back at practice Wednesday after experiencing soreness and swelling in his legs that caused him to be absent from Tuesday's game.
He seemed to be in good spirits, though he called his leg issue a "mysterious thing."
"I was feeling all right," he said. "I just had some curious things going on that just had to be watched."
Medical results are pending and could take up to a week, a Lakers spokesman said.
Rambis took Jackson's place against Utah, though Jackson said he expected to coach against the Clippers.
As if to remind players of his return, Jackson, 63, put the team through a longer-than-expected practice session Wednesday.
The Lakers were careless against Utah, their turnovers a concern for coaches even in an exhibition opener.
Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant each had four turnovers. Vladimir Radmanovic and Jordan Farmar each had three.
"We have a principle in our offense to hit the first open man and there were so many times that we just flat-out didn't do that," Rambis said. "Sometimes we tried to get too much, with them trying to make the home-run pass. Sometimes our big people were trying to create offense with too much congestion on them."
Forward Luke Walton went through his third practice since off-season surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle. "It still gets pretty sore afterward, but that's expected," he said. "Every day I do it, it feels stronger and I feel like I can do more as far as pushing off, stopping and changing directions." . . . Rookie free agent Dwayne Mitchell was waived Wednesday, leaving the Lakers with 18 players, three more than the league maximum.