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Lamar Odom back in the starting lineup

While Andrew Bynum has struggled, team has played better with the versatile forward on the floor.

May 07, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

Lamar Odom was back in the starting lineup, yet again, playing the role of the "human Swiss army knife," as a Lakers spokesman dubbed him.

The most versatile member of the Lakers continued his on-again off-again relationship with the starters, joining them Wednesday in Game 2 after coming off the bench in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Andrew Bynum, who has been ineffective and foul prone, was demoted to reserve status.

It has been an unpredictable season for Odom, particularly the last few weeks.

He logged 31 games as a starter and averaged 13.9 points and 11.1 rebounds after Bynum was injured. Since then, he has shuttled back and forth from the first and second units.

Wednesday marked his latest shift with the starters, and it seemed to have a sense of permanence to it.

"We want Andrew to be that force, that player out there," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We think that it's an important aspect or premise for this team, but we have not functioned well in these playoffs, or as well as we have when Lamar started."

In other words, don't expect Odom to return to the bench any time soon.

His impact was felt right away. He fed Pau Gasol for two easy layups in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 39-25 lead.

Odom, who finished with seven points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes, took the latest move with a shrug.

"It is what it is," he said. "This was needed."

Bynum was averaging 5.8 points and three rebounds in the playoffs coming into Game 2.

"We know we need rebounding and shot-blocking and size with Andrew in there at some level if we're going to be very successful this season." Jackson said. "We're not as forceful or as intimidating around the paint if we don't have it, but we're so much better at the offensive end because of the mobility that we have. It's kind of like a situation where you have to live with one or the other. I think we'll give up more points in the process but we also gather more points."

Bryant gets defensive

Kobe Bryant was named to the NBA's All-Defensive team for the ninth time, the league announced Wednesday.

Orlando center Dwight Howard, Cleveland forward LeBron James, Boston forward Kevin Garnett and New Orleans guard Chris Paul were also selected.

Bryant received 24 first-team votes, second only to the 27 received by Howard, who was recently selected the league's defensive player of the year.

The voting panel consisted of the league's 30 head coaches, who each submitted ballots with five players on first team and five on second team. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.

Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza and Gasol received minor consideration but not enough to make the second team, which was made up of Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Shane Battier and Ron Artest.

Fisher received a first-team vote and a second-team vote. Ariza received two second-team votes and Gasol received one second-team vote.

Everybody's back

Reserve forward Luke Walton played in Game 2 after missing three playoff games because of a partially torn ligament in his left foot. He had six points and a team-high five assists in 20 minutes, but looked tentative with his shot.


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