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LAKERS FYI

Lakers forward Lamar Odom knows the focus is on him

Forward says he's comfortable, but not satisfied, with his play against Celtics.

June 12, 2010|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Boston -- Lamar Odom gripped the podium with both hands, his voice low as he talked to the media, his usual gregarious temperament nowhere to be found in the NBA Finals.

Instead, his demeanor has turned solemn.

Odom's play against the Boston Celtics has been questioned by the media, his teammates and the Lakers' coaching staff.

All wanted to know if this is starting to weigh on the Lakers' versatile forward, if the constant bashing has taxed Odom, if his inconsistent play has affected his psyche in the best-of-seven series that's tied at 2-2.

"Nah, man," Odom said, quietly. "We've been here five, six days. I'm ready to go home. I'm starting to catch a little cold, or whatever."

Odom hasn't played up to his standards in the Finals, leaving many wondering how he's going to improve his play.

"I'm not worried about that," Odom said. "I've always been a good basketball player and I always will be. That's what I get paid to do. That's why y'all are here asking me questions."

The Lakers and Celtics had two days off before Game 5 Sunday at TD Garden, two days for Odom to ponder.

He's averaging 7.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and one assist in the Finals, all low-water marks compared with the three series in the Western Conference playoffs.

Even his sense of humor seems to have gone away.

When told Lakers Coach Phil Jackson joked Friday that he was thinking of using an "electrode" as a way to stimulate Odom's play, Odom didn't smile or respond. He stared ahead.

He was told Jackson said Odom looked uncomfortable in Game 5. "No, I'm comfortable," Odom said.

More eyes are on Odom because Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been playing limited minutes because of swelling in his right knee.

Bynum had the knee drained Thursday for the second time in almost two weeks and still isn't sure how effective he can be. That means Odom could face more pressure to perform.

He was outplayed in Game 4 by Boston reserve Glen Davis, who had 18 points on seven-for-10 shooting.

Odom had 10 points, seven rebounds and five fouls in 39 minutes. He was asked to assess his own play in the Finals.

"It could be better," Odom said. "The first two games I wasn't even on the court [because of foul trouble], so you X those out. But it could be better.

"There has to be a story behind this series, obviously you guys know that."

Does he understand he's a big part of that story?

"Always," Odom said. "But I always should be because if we are going to play a game, guys are always going to say, 'They really need Lamar to win.' I'm still part of the story, playing good or playing bad."

Gasol ready to get physical

Now is not the time for Lakers forward Pau Gasol to back down to the more physical Celtics. Now is the time for Gasol to stand up to Boston power forward Kevin Garnett, and against powerful Kendrick Perkins (6-10, 280 pounds) when Gasol moves from power forward to center.

"Mentally, you just have to come in extremely ready to go and just play through everything for 48 minutes," Gasol said.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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