Lamar Odom, agenda-setter?
Indeed, the Lakers forward listened to what he told reporters after Saturday's practice, fully buying into his pledge to throw more muscle Sunday at the Denver Nuggets, expecting a "hard" game and following through successfully with a victory.
All he did was score 20 points and collect 12 rebounds and four steals in the Lakers' 95-89 victory.
"I told myself I was going to play with two hands on the ball," he said. "I'm going to try to play like a power forward. I tried to catch the ball and just deliver so I could hurt them and put some pressure on them. Usually in big games . . . that's kind of when I need to step up and play well for us to beat the really good teams in the league."
It's not unusual for Odom to have big games against the Nuggets.
The Lakers were facing a degree of uncertainty last season after being pelted by Denver in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, 120-101.
Odom averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds in the next two games, both victories, allowing the Lakers to advance to the NBA Finals. (Kobe Bryant's 35 points and 10 assists in Game 6 were an obvious factor as well.)
On Sunday, Odom had a quiet first half (six points, four rebounds) but came around in the second half and was the only Lakers player to log all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
"I wasn't happy with Lamar's play in the first half," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I took him out just to let him sit a little bit, put Josh [Powell] in."
Odom scored in numerous ways in the fourth quarter: a three-pointer, a 10-foot off-balance bank, a short hook and a 10-foot floater.
Jackson called the three-pointer a "momentum jump" and had only kind words for Odom's overall game.
"Lamar is a really valuable player against this team particularly, but his value is really evident in 12 rebounds, 20 points, the things that were around the hoop," Jackson said.
Said Odom: "We fought for post position and defensive rebounding, offensive rebounding as well."