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Lakers' Lamar Odom suspended for one game by the NBA

The forward is punished for leaving the bench after teammate Trevor Ariza's flagrant foul on the Trail Blazers' Rudy Fernandez. Ariza escapes suspension; Odom to miss Wednesday's game in Houston.

March 11, 2009|Broderick Turner

HOUSTON — Already reeling from their worst loss of the season in Portland on Monday, the Lakers suffered another blow Tuesday when the NBA suspended Lamar Odom for one game without pay for leaving the bench area during a scuffle in the third quarter.

Odom will miss tonight's game against the Houston Rockets and the suspension will cost him about $104,000. Stu Jackson, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, ruled Odom had left the "immediate vicinity" of the bench after teammate Trevor Ariza's flagrant foul on Portland guard Rudy Fernandez, which led to the skirmish.

Odom wasn't available for comment. The Lakers didn't practice after flying here from Portland on Tuesday afternoon. He will not be allowed in the Houston arena during the game.

Odom will be allowed to play Thursday night in San Antonio.

"We're disappointed with and we disagree with the league's ruling," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said.

Despite being short-handed, the Lakers got some good news when the league said Ariza wouldn't be suspended for his flagrant foul on Fernandez.

Ariza was ejected after laying out Fernandez on a fastbreak layup attempt with 2.2 seconds left in the third quarter and the Lakers down, 83-55.

Ariza was assessed a Type 2 flagrant foul, which carries an automatic ejection.

"Ariza will not be further disciplined," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

"Every flagrant foul is reviewed to see if it warrants a suspension. This was determined not to be the case."

Fernandez was carted off the court on a stretcher after a brace was applied to his neck. He suffered a soft-tissue injury to his upper chest and side but had full movement of all his extremities and spent Monday night at a hospital.

Odom was sitting on the Lakers' bench after the foul, but he wandered away near the fracas until he was pulled away by Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis.

Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw and Lakers' forward Josh Powell were given technical fouls for pushing and shoving during the incident.

After the Lakers were defeated, 111-94, by Portland, Odom was asked if he was concerned that he might get suspended.

"No, I stayed on the bench," Odom said after the game. "I stood up. I didn't go nowhere. They'll [the NBA] see it and they'll see I didn't go nowhere."

The NBA didn't view it that way and now it leaves the Lakers with only 11 players.

The Lakers can play only with the players on their active roster, meaning they can't add guard Sun Yue, who remained in Los Angeles.

Odom had been starting at power forward since Lakers center Andrew Bynum was sidelined by a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Jan. 31.

The Lakers probably will start Powell tonight in Odom's place.

Backup center DJ Mbenga, who has played well in his last two games, will be the first big man off the bench for the Lakers.

The Lakers have lost three consecutive road games. They also face a big challenge tonight in the Rockets, who have been revived since guard Tracy McGrady said he'd miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery. The Rockets have won 11 of 13 games, including a victory over the Nuggets in Denver on Monday night, and have inserted their quick, second-year point guard, Aaron Brooks, into the starting lineup.

The Lakers' loss to the Trail Blazers was disconcerting because the Lakers have lost seven straight games in Portland.

The 17-point defeat was their worst loss in Portland since losing by 27 points in April 1999.

"It's not about fixing or doing anything like that," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said after Monday night's game.

"It's about guys taking personal responsibility. It's just about having to face the challenge that comes every night with being first in the league and what you have to do to do that."

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Mike Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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broderick.turner@latimes.com

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Tonight's game

Lakers at Houston

5:30 PDT, Channel 9

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